Downer Place Bridge Reconstruction
HR Green provided the Phase One, Two, and Three services for two bridge superstructure replacements over the Fox River in the downtown area of Aurora, Illinois, the state’s second largest City.
The existing bridges (three span filled spandrel arches constructed in 1909 using reinforced concrete) connect historic Stolp Island to the rest of the City of Aurora and the bridges were listed on the Historic Register. The original bridges could not be replaced in kind for a number of reasons but historic considerations required a reasonable replication of the existing bridges. Upon completion of the Federal Section 106 process, a Memorandum of Agreement with the City, State, and Federal Government was completed. The memorandum stated that the reconstructed bridge superstructures would consist of three spans of precast, prestressed concrete deck beams along with precast concrete fascia in the shape of the original arches with period lighting all constructed on the original piers and abutments. Since the City made it a point to involve businesses and citizens residing on the island on the project from the beginning of Phase One, which started in the fall of 2007, HR Green and the City held several public meetings with these stakeholders while the memorandum was being prepared. A major community component centered on access to businesses and the length of time required to complete the project. As a result of the meetings, the community agreed to completely close both bridges for one year, while maintaining access to businesses via the other four bridges that connect to the island and along Stolp Avenue on the island.
Phase Two design was complicated by extensive utility conflicts, lack of drawings for the existing 100 year old bridges, and the abutments being integral with historic building foundations dating to the 1840’s. The project was let in September of 2011; seven bids ranging from $6.8 Million to $8.5 Million were received by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
Resident Engineering services on the project were provided by HR Green, and staff is currently working on project close out. While the schedule of this high profile project caused initial concerns among City officials and business, HR Green staff, a cooperative contractor and the blessing of exceptionally dry weather allowed the substantial completion of the project in less than one year. The single-season construction of this bridge was the fastest completion of a bridge ever rebuilt within the City of Aurora. Stakeholders expressed great satisfaction with the reconstructed bridges and the re-opening of the bridges to traffic occurred in November 2012. The City of Aurora held a grand re-opening and ribbon cutting ceremony.