The nearly 100-year old draw bridge at Florence that carries Illinois Route 100/Illinois Route 106 over the Illinois River is about to be replaced.
Public meetings to explore placing a new bridge at Florence began back in 2016 with the Illinois Department of Transportation. Environmental assessments and a potential design followed with subsequent public hearings in counties on both sides of the bridge.
IDOT Engineer Sal Madonia says the Florence Bridge project is now on to Phase 2 with a full design of the accepted proposal: “With the planning study completed, it identified a new location for the proposed Florence Bridge about 300 feet south of the existing bridge. That process has been vetted through the Phase I process. We had a community advisory group that was helpful in helping us in guiding us through the process. Through the selection process of multiple alternatives, we were able to narrow it down to one selected preferred alternative and that is the one that is 300 feet south of the existing bridge. With that being for the most part completed, we have shifted our efforts onto the design of the new bridge. That’s what we have been actively working on. We have a consultant preparing contract plans for us and they are continuing to work on the design to get us at the point to get the project out there for letting.”
Madonia says that the project will be similar to the Meredosia bridge from just a few years ago in which the new bridge will be built while the old bridge remains open and operational.
Madonia says the design will be similar to the Twin Eagle Bridge that takes Interstate 72 over the river: “The new bridge will be very similar to the I-72/Valley City bridges. It will be built higher. The piers in the water will be wider. I believe the current navigation channel – that main span – is around 200 feet right now. The new bridge will have an opening of around 400 feet.”
Madonia says he doesn’t expect any delays for the new bridge to be built, even with current supply chain issues affecting the country. He says there are a few pieces that IDOT will have to tie up before the bridge can start construction: “We don’t anticipate any delays. There is land to acquire. There is probably about 11 parcels that will be needed. We always have utility adjustments in a project of this size. It will impact some of the utilities that fall in the right-of-way as well as potential for some outside of the right-of-way. Those are all being coordinated at this time. The design is continuing. It’s identifying the land we are actually working on. We are working on preparing plats and getting ready to contact property owners and start the land acquisition process.”
Madonia says in the meantime IDOT will keep a close watch on any further deterioration of the old draw bridge built in 1929, which is now considered structurally deficient and functionally obsolete. He says IDOT has done enough maintenance to the bridge and made significant investments to keep the bridge safe while the new bridge is being completed.