Next work phase on new Savanna-Sabula Bridge underway

Commuters crossing the Mississippi River from Savanna to Sabula, Iowa, on the Savanna-Sabula Bridge may see some relief as construction is underway to replace the aging structure.

The through-truss-type bridge consists of two narrow 10-foot-wide lanes with no shoulders, an extremely low guard rail and an open-grate deck.

Faith Duncan, a project manager for the construction of the new bridge, said many residents are happy to see the old bridge go, especially those who are afraid of heights. The current structure is deficient, Duncan said.

“It is geometrically deficient,” Duncan said. “We talked about the narrow lanes and stuff. It doesn’t meet current policy. Structurally, it is at the end of its useful life.”

The bridge was built 84 years ago to accommodate the traffic at the time.

“The existing structure was constructed in 1932, and it was built as a toll bridge,” Duncan said. “It was built by a private firm called the Savanna Sabula Bridge Company for about $750,000.”

The structure went through some major repairs in 1985 and 1999, which was the same year it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. In 2009, it was determined that the bridge required further costly repairs, and it was time to replace it.

“It was at that time that it was decided we are going ahead and replace the entire structure instead of investing more time and money into something that wasn’t going to extend the life of the bridge,” Duncan said.

Duncan, who was involved in Phase I and Phase II of the project, said the project is going well.

“Right now, it is currently out in Phase III, and Kraemer North America, located out of Plain, Wisconsin, was our low bidder, at $80.6 million,” Duncan said. “That’s to replace the existing structure with a new structure that’s located just about 100 feet south on the Illinois side.”

The new bridge will give motorists more room to breathe and should be completed by 2018.

“The new structure will be a tied-arch structure,” Duncan said. “Those are pretty common in Illinois. It will consist of two 12-foot lanes and two 8-foot shoulders, which is significantly wider than the two 10-foot lanes that are there today.”

No more open-grate decks, Duncan said. The 8-foot shoulders will also accommodate bicycles in the area.

The project is being funded mostly through federal support, with assistance from Illinois and Iowa.

“It is a 90/10 split, which means that 90 percent of our funds came from the feds and 10 percent is state funds,” Duncan said.

“That 10 percent is also split between Iowa and Illinois because there is a cost share between the two states to rebuild the bridge. That’s for the structure itself. Any work that is exclusively done on the Illinois side is 100 percent Illinois. Any work that is done exclusively on Iowa’s side is 100 percent their cost.”

Duncan said the new bridge will not be a toll bridge and that any maintenance and repairs will be paid for with state funds.

–Illinois News Network

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