The Illinois Department of Transportation will be hosting a public hearing on Thursday, September 10th as it proceeds with building a new Florence Bridge. IDOT maintains the lift bridge at Florence, which is located on Illinois Routes 100 and 106 at the Scott/Pike County Line. This bridge was built in 1929 and is now considered functionally obsolete and structurally deficient. IDOT last held a meeting about the project in December 2017.
IDOT announced on August 12th that they had completed a 3 year environmental study on how to improve the route over the Illinois River while minimizing impacts to the local environment and to local inhabitants and businesses. IDOT Studies & Plans Engineer Jay Wavering says that the situation calls for a brand new bridge 300 feet south of the existing structure: “This project is actually included in our FY21-26 proposed highway improvement program, so construction funding is allocated there. The good news is the structure is in dire need of repair and IDOT is looking to replace the structure sooner rather than later. At the meeting itself, we will have exhibits, maps, aerial photography of the preferred alternative, and we will also have the environmental assessment. This will be a lot of information for the public to view, and it will also offer an opportunity for everyone to provide feedback on our preferred recommendation.”
The proposed improvement would involve removal of the existing bridge which is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
Wavering says that the design will look very similar to another bridge in the area: “The anticipation is to be a very similar look to the Champ Clark Bridge. We do not anticipate it to be a tied arch [design] similar to what the Meredosia Bridge is. The draw bridge, or the lift structure, would no longer be required with the new design. The roadway profile would be increased so that barge traffic could pass freely while vehicles are going over the bridge.”
Wavering says that the overlay of the highway will also be raised to avert any possible flooding from the Illinois River in the near future so that traffic can continue to flow in and out during high waters.
Wavering says that pictures and documents related to the 3 year study will be posted on the FlorenceBridgeStudy.com website next Tuesday, September 8th ahead of the meeting. He says it will allow the public who does not feel comfortable coming to the hearing on September 10th the chance to view the exhibits and study, as well as to ask questions. Comments and questions can be sent to the IDOT District 6 Office at 126 East Ash Street in Springfield, Illinois. Comments received prior to September 24th will be included in the official project’s record.
The Open House-style Public Hearing will be conducted consistent with Illinois Department of Public Health and CDC guidelines which will includ esocial distancing and limiting the number of attendees in the facility to 50 people at any given time. Staff and attendees will be required to wear masks; masks will be provided to attendees if they do not have one. The hearing will be conducted on an informal basis; no formal presentation is planned. Representatives of IDOT and the consultant engineering firm of WSP will be available to answer questions.
The Open House will be held Thursday, September 10th from 4:00 pm to 7:00 pm at the Nimrod Funk 4H Community Building located at 401 North Walnut Street in Winchester. For further questions, you can contact Wavering at the IDOT office in Springfield at (217) 785-9046; or by email at Jay.Wavering@illinois.gov.