In 2002, a tanker carrying 9,900 gallons of gas exploded under a bridge in Birmingham, AL, killing the driver, and causing the steel supports to sag around 10 feet on one side (3m).

That was January 5th.

On January 21, 2002, work began on the removal of the 290′, 6 lane section.

On February 27, 2002, the bridge was reopened to traffic.

37 days, start to completion. 53 days ahead of schedule (and 53 days post-accident). Brasfield & Gorrie quite rightly received numerous awards for this project (ABC Excellence in Construction, ABC National Eagle Award, ASCE Civil Engineering Award, The Engineering Hall of Fame)

I lived there, and drove past this daily to and from work. The bridge is not a simple arch over the road. Beside being 5-6 lanes wide (merges happen), the span is on a 60 degree skew with super elevation transition in two directions with a ridgeline. It’s complicated. And this 37 days included teardown of the damaged span. Oh yeah, and they only got to close I65 northbound (which was under the span) to set the girders for one 24 hour period.

By way of comparison, D Construction, Inc. of Coal City, IL should be awarded the Golden Raspberry versions of Brasfield & Gorrie’s awards. They are the contractor working on IDOT project 003-60T44, the repair of the bridge on Cicero Ave. (IL50) over I-57 in Country Club Hills. Which is the bridge I cross daily on the way to work. The project was slated to begin 05/29/2018, which seems about right. It was slated to be completed (both north and south lanes) no later than 11/16/2018. Specifically, the parameters stated:

The Contractor shall be required to complete all bridge deck related work requiring permanent lane closures and open all traffic lanes on the bridge by November 16, 2018.

If you look on the IDOT ‘current permits’ page, you see a rather different date for completion. 06/30/2019. Honestly, since they have yet to complete one side, I really doubt that date is even in the realm of possibility.

Why? Well, when they began, it was pretty standard stuff – crews there tearing up the old deck, getting the rebar out, and so on. But, as fall hit, suddenly work stopped. By the original full completion date, I would see workers maybe one or two days every week or so. Then once in three weeks. I don’t think that anyone has done actual work since December.

I get it, it’s cold, a bridge over an interstate, all of that makes sense.

But it’s been 274 days, and the rebar isn’t even finished yet. On the first half of the bridge. The bridge in Birmingham could have been rebuilt from scratch more than 7 times in the time it is taking D Construction to get to not-even-half finished. Let that sink in. This bridge isn’t curved, is narrower, and doesn’t need to be totally removed before work can begin. And the rebar on the first half isn’t done, 274 days later.

Oh, and there is supposed to be construction beginning on a huge logistics hub soon. Just south of this bridge. Which you must cross to get to the site from I-57. And to I-57 from the site. Logistics…as in shipping. As in this bridge needed to be finished on time to accommodate the development’s needs (plans include four distribution warehouses totaling 1.4 million square feet) and support the economic growth it should bring to the area.

Time to step it up, D Construction, and get the bridge finished.