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East, North Bridge work updates

November 18, 2020 - 00:00
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  • East, North Bridge work updates
    CEKRA, INC cocoons the North River Bridge so environmental protections will be in place when they begin rust blasting and repainting. Project is expected to be finish by March 2021. Citizen | John Jones
  • East, North Bridge work updates
    CEKRA, INC cocoons the North River Bridge so environmental protections will be in place when they begin rust blasting and repainting. Project is expected to be finished by March 2021. Citizen | John Jones

To say things have been a little “wonky” with the construction of the new East River bridge is an understatement. The bridge, with its unusually arched steel girders, has picked up nicknames such as “circus bridge” and “roller coaster bridge” and may have to have major chiropractic work done on its structural bones.

Work on the bridge came to a halt earlier this year, and in April the Citizen reported that the engineering company in charge of the project, VRX, performed weekly checks to the environment around the bridge to clean and clear debris.

Lucean Kuykendall-Herring, Public Information Officer for the Texas Department of Transportation Area Office in Wharton, said that bridge construction was set to begin Nov. 9.

Preliminary construction has since begun with anticipated road and bridge closings. Angel Brothers Holdings Corp., of Baytown, was awarded the contract with a bid of $13.6 million for the construction, or rather the re-construction of the bridge. Work is expected to be completed in Spring 2023.

TxDOT advises motorists to expect traffic delays, and use caution when driving through the work zone. Also, slow down and follow posted work zone speed limits, and watch trucks entering and exiting the work area.

North River Bridge update

On the Northern front, the status of work at the North River Bridge has been cloaked in mystery - as well as coverings - for a while. Bob Shelter, site supervisor for CEKRA, Inc. who is the contractor for the remodeling bridge, brings the mystery into the light.

“The bridge covering is to keep all rust and paint particulates from escaping and blanketing the whole area. The environmental impact is kept to a minimum and is required as part of the massive reconditioning of the North River bridge,” Shelter explained.

Shelter said that the project was supposed to already have been completed. In January 2019, the Citizen reported that work on the North River Bridge on Texas 71 was close to 60 percent complete, and was then scheduled for a November 2019 completion.

However, when the pavement was taken off the girders, there was major rust damage that had to be repaired. Shelter now anticipates a finish date of March 2021. He went on to note that the North River bridge was kept because it is a “ very well constructed iron bridge and one of a few left like this.”

Once finished, the bridge will handle inbound traffic into Columbus, and the new bridge will handle outbound traffic.