The Manito Road Bridge construction is burning up the highway.
Tazewell County Highway Commissioner Craig Fink said the $4.4 million project was slated for completion next year, but the mild winter allowed United Contractors Midwest workers to be on site almost every workday of the winter season.
The project is now 86 percent complete, said Fink. The final part of the project will be to build the approaches to the span. That requires the embankment to be raised to the level of the new deck.
“So they are way ahead of schedule,” said Fink. “I hate to jinx it, but depending on weather — as long as the weather is normal — they will actually be opened up sometime this year as opposed to the originally planned next year.
“That’s great news for people out in that area who have been dealt a difficult commute. Where Townline Road and Manito Road meet, which would be four or five miles south and west of there going into Pekin, the additional mileage is not much at all. But if you live immediately north of the bridge you have to go all the way down to Townline and all the way around. That’s where the mileage gets more expensive.”
The bridge spans the Mackinaw River on County Highway 16. The bridge was in poor condition. The process for federal funding for the project started 10 years ago. The Manito Road bridge project is being funded by the Illinois Major Bridge Program, a federal program that Illinois administers. The bridge was closed on Nov. 1, 2016, for the project to start. Commuters have traveled Townline Road and Wagonseller Road to detour around the construction.
The approaches to the bridge were last replaced in 1981. The deck of the bridge was replaced in 1995. The truss — the metal frame above the deck — was built in 1941.
The new bridge is 36-feet wide. The old bridge was only 28. Design standards, said Fink, are based on the volume of traffic and the changes in vehicles over the years.
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