Hopes that State Road 56 reconstruction along Vevay Hill would be completed and traffic restored by mid-December have faded away – but there’s still a chance that Switzerland County residents will get a Christmas present of a new roadway.
Brad Burk, project manager with the Indiana Department of Transportation, said that work is moving along, but there is still quite a bit to be completed before traffic can resume on the hill.
“We’re paving surface today,” Brad Burk said on Wednesday morning. “All the piers are done. Everything behind the wall is done. All we’ve got left is the surface and the approaches to pave and we’ve got to stripe it, put the guardrail in and the signs up.”
Brad Burk said that if the project continues to be lucky with good weather, the road could reopen around Christmas, but there’s no way of predicting what type of weather might blow into the area in the coming weeks. Force Construction, which is contracted for the job, believes that it can have the road open in January – which would still be far ahead of the original projected completion date of April of next year.
Brad Burk said that the surface of the road should have been completed on Wednesday, and following that there will be a few approaches, such as driveways, that will need to be paved and brought to the road. The work is expected to happen today (Thursday).
After that, crews will come in to lay out the striping that will go on the roadway surface. Brad Burk said that the actual striping won’t take very long, but the planning of where the striping will go will probably take about a day.
Added to that is the fact that the temperature must be at least 40 degrees when the striping is done so that the paint adheres to the road surface, and the temperature must remain above 40 degrees for over two hours after the paint is applied so that it will bond securely.
“I’d say that first good day we get in the 50s, they need to be in here to stripe the thing,” Brad Burk said.
Then comes the guardrail.
The guardrail runs the entire 2,600-foot length of the wall, but the posts that hold the guardrail in place need to be driven every 16-3/4 inches all along the 2,600-foot span, which means there needs to be a lot of posts driven into the ground.
“They told me that it would take two weeks to put the guardrail in,” Brad Burk said.
The guardrail posts go between where the back of the curb is and the wall, where there is a two-foot area of stone. Brad Burk said that weather won’t necessarily hamper the installation of the guardrail and signage.
“If we still get decent weather, I can see (the hill opening to traffic) around Christmas, if we’re lucky,” Brad Burk said. “Two weeks for the guardrail, a day to stripe it, and a day for the signs. Of course all of that depends on us continuing to get good weather.”
Vevay Hill was closed to all traffic in April of this year so that a $6.3 million reconstruction and stabilization of the roadway along the hill could be accomplished. Over the years the area has been the site of slides that have caused inconsistencies in the roadway surface and the hillside below the road has eroded.
To offset those slides, a series of concrete piers were poured on the south side of the roadway, creating a wall that will prevent slippage. In the original plans, the road was to have remained closed until July 1st of next year.