After anticipation that construction on a bridge running over North Third Street along the north side of the turnpike could take crews up to three nights to complete, it turns out there was little to worry about at all. Crews started the work at 9 p.m. on Monday and were setting the last of nine new steel beams by 5 a.m Tuesday.
"Everything went great, It ran better than expected," said Rex Fleming, project engineer for the Kansas Turnpike Authority.
Contractors had shut the street down for nine separate intervals throughout the night so that crews could lift the beams into place to rebuild the bridge above North Third. Crews raised the beams, secured them, then reopened the road as they moved to the next beam to start the process over again. Traffic was squeezed to one lane in each direction throughout the night to accommodate the crane lifting the beams. Predictions that traffic stoppages would last 10 to 15 minutes per beam proved to be about right, according to Fleming. The first beam took 15 minutes, and the second only seven minutes. Fleming said that while placing several of the beams, there were no cars waiting at all.
The project was originally planned to start as early as Friday, Feb. 13, but was moved in order to not disrupt daytime travel of perhaps thousands of motorists.
There is still work to do, but none that should cause any more closures to the street. Once crews tighten the bolts on the steel, they'll establish survey shots across the beams as they prepare for work on the road's deck over the next few days.