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Published: Monday, 7/9/2007

Work winds down on King bridge

BY DAVID PATCH
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Two of the four drawspan sections of the King bridge still need to be replaced before fi nal deck paving can be done.
Two of the four drawspan sections of the King bridge still need to be replaced before fi nal deck paving can be done.
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Workers are still clambering around the partially open Martin Luther King Jr. Bridge in downtown Toledo, but the work is winding down for now.

Kristin Cousino, the project engineer for the city division of streets, bridges, and harbor, said crews are preparing the bridge for installation of two remaining drawspan sections, which was put on hold earlier this year.

"There's only one small crane left, and that will be pulling off soon," she said. Construction activity soon will go on hiatus until Maumee River shipping shuts down again, sometime around New Year's Day.

When a city contractor began replacing drawspans on the bridge in January, officials hoped the entire job would be finished in a little more than two months, and that the bridge's years-long renovation would be all wrapped up by now.

But after the drawspan replacement fell hopelessly behind schedule during the winter river shutdown when the work could be done, contractor National Engineering took its collective foot off the gas as far as readying the bridge for installing the two remaining drawspan sections.

That's why motorists using the King's two active lanes have continued to see workers and equipment out on the bridge for the past few months.

National crews have finished removing all of the crumbling concrete that was found during the winter in the piers that anchor the drawspans, but some replacement concrete remains to be poured. That pour has been on hold because of late delivery of specially bent, epoxy-coated reinforcing steel to the job site, Ms. Cousino said, but should occur within about two weeks.

The crumbling concrete was one of several problems that arose last winter after the contractor removed half of the King's 1910-vintage drawspans and began to ready the structure to receive prefabricated replacements.

Counterweight vaults under the roadway needed reshaping to accept the new drawspans, and when workers started cutting away the old concrete, they found hidden decay inside the piers.

Removing and filling those concrete cavities delayed installation of new drawspan sections by weeks, and then Mother Nature took over with ice jams and high water that disrupted project-related barge movement on the Maumee.

Last winter's construction ended up closing the bridge to vehicles for nearly two months, instead of the maximum four-day closing originally promised. No long-term closings are expected next winter.

Once all four drawspan sections are installed, final deck paving will be done. The paving will eliminate temporary ramps and steel plates on the two sections installed last winter that create a rough ride for motorists using the currently open part of the bridge.

The project's late completion, including last winter's construction delays as well as an earlier design problem that delayed the drawspan installation by a year to begin with, remains the subject of pending city lawsuits against National and HNTB, the engineering firm that designed the project.

Contact David Patch at:

dpatch@theblade.com

or 419-724-6094.



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