Time for a good old-fashioned bridge party
It ran a few months (8 months, actually) over the promised due date, but now that the Humboldt Avenue Bridge is done it’s time to party!
East-siders, Riverwesterners and anyone with a commute that involved crossing the river at Humboldt Avenue have eagerly anticipated the bridge’s re-opening after 20 months of street closures, traffic detours and the loss of several businesses in the neighborhood.
The project began in 1999 when the initial design for the bridge and Riverboat Road were approved by the state DOT. It was awarded to Lunda Construction in October 2008 and demolition began shortly afterward.
Soon problems were discovered, like unstable soils and contamination, which extended the time frame to complete the project from October 2009 to June 2010.
When Good Life closed its doors last November, the owners posted a sign on the door thanking the city, the DOT and the construction company for the “timely” reconstruction of the bridge.
In an interview last year, Bayou co-owner Robert Jenkins said the construction was not moving fast enough for his restaurant when combined with the poor economy.
“Now without the bridge and the construction vehicles and the mounds of dirt, the iron and steel everywhere there’s limited parking. There’s limited routes to get here and just the numbers are down. Humboldt was a main road where people traveled. You could see Bayou. You could walk on Humboldt the bridge and see the restaurant. We get a lot of foot traffic and that is completely gone now.”
“There were good reasons for the delay,” Third District Alderman Nik Kovac said. “But it was only a few months behind. The soil problems had to change the construction methods. But that was something which wasn’t found by the initial soil borings.”
Kovac said the project could have gone faster if funds had been available. “Cost is no object when it’s the military or freeways, but not city streets. This could have been done as fast as the Zoo Interchange repairs.”
The project was initially slated to cost $8.09 million, but due to overruns and delays the cost has risen to $8.5 million.
In light of the long-overdue opening, the city is throwing a party to celebrate this important milestone.
Beginning at 3 p.m. Wednesday, the public can check out the newly completed span on foot or with bikes. The official ribbon cutting and the first Route 10 bus to cross the bridge as part of the grand re-opening will start at 5 p.m. Neighborhood organizations will perform and put on displays down the Commerce Street ramp.
After that the party begins. According to Ald. Kovac, there will be free beer supplied by Lakefront Brewery and food donated by Stubby’s, which replaced Bayou restaurant in May. An informal pedestrian parade is also being planned to start at the brewery and end at the Red Room.
Visit TCD on Thursday for pictures of all the fun from the grand re-opening of the Humboldt Avenue Bridge and to share your opinions.