The eastern portion of the Rotary Riverfront Trail, which has been closed during construction of the new Highway 47 bridge, will not reopen until the end of 2019, according to Parks Director Darren Dunkle.
Restoration work to that portion of the trail, between the bridge and the wastewater treatment plant, will not begin until the old bridge has come down, he said.
That section was closed in September 2016 to provide a construction staging area on the south side of the river. A large area is needed for workers to assemble the steel cages for the piers and for concrete trucks to move around.
Dunkle believes the old bridge won’t be imploded until March 2019.
“The best I can tell you (for the trail to reopen) is by the end of 2019,” he said. “I know that’s a wide gap, but by the contract I believe that makes a clear year of restoration.”
Alberici Constructors Inc., general contractor for the bridge, will be required to replace any portion of the trail that is torn up once construction is completed as stipulated in its contract.
“It doesn’t mean that they have to replace the whole trail, only what they tore up,” Dunkle said.
Alberici has laid rock down on the trail in an attempt to minimize the destruction of the trail, he said, but big trucks with heavy material are driving over it.
“We might be able to utilize some of that rock and (create) a new trail on top of (the old one),” he said. “Until you get in there and remove that rock to see what was really damaged underneath, it’s going to be tough to tell.”
The grand opening for the new bridge is scheduled for Saturday, Dec. 1, depending on weather. The bridge will open to vehicle traffic by Dec. 3.
Dunkle said the pedestrian lane on the new bridge may not open until March.