County officials awaiting go ahead from state to begin bridge project

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It’s been nearly eight years since Switzerland County officials began the process of securing federal funds to help with the replacement of the bridge spanning Turtle Creek near Florence; but that wait appears to be coming to an end, as the county commissioners have announced that the replacement of the bridge should begin shortly.

The Turtle Creek bridge has long been a topic of discussion and debate from here to Indianapolis – as the deteriorating condition of the bridge has made traffic hazardous; but some state officials wanted to make sure that any historic significance to the bridge was preserved.

Having maneuvered around those obstacles, the county has been waiting for the final release of funds by the federal government, which will pay 80-percent of the project’s cost.

The county awarded the bid for the project to McAlister Excavating in June with a bid of $974,135.69; and officials at McAlister’s are now waiting on state go ahead before beginning the work.

“We are waiting on the ‘Notice to Proceed’ from the state,” Cathy McAlister said this week. “The state needs to receive the county’s portion of the funds, and once those are received, the state will issue the notice. We’re ready to go.”

Cathy McAlister said that everything hinges on receiving the notice from the state, but she said that the company hopes to begin work within the next 10 days. Initially the old bridge will remain open for utility companies to move back and forth across the creek to move their utility lines and pipes; and it is estimated that it will take about 30 days to have the utilities moved.

Embark, REMC, and Patriot Water all have utilities that will need to be relocated.

Eventually the bridge will be completely closed to all traffic as it is torn down; but Cathy McAlister said that they are required to give 10 days notice prior to closing the bridge.

In the initial bid specifications, the work was to be finished by April 20th, 2007; but since the Notice to Proceed has been held up at the state level, it is estimated that the work will now be finished in May of next year.

“It’s been a long time coming,” Cathy McAlister said. “It will be nice to have that bridge replaced and make it safer for drivers.”