ST. CHARLES – In the five years Mayor Don DeWitte has looked at the renderings of Red Gate Bridge, he had no idea just how imposing its piers would be.
Monday, he got his first up-close look at the bridge’s progress during a tour that gave aldermen and other city officials a full view of the work being done on the the Fox River’s east side. Seeing the concrete bridge supports in person “really puts the scope of the project in perspective,” DeWitte said.
Red Gate Bridge will provide St. Charles with its northernmost Fox River crossing.
The City Council unanimously approved the first phase of construction in July despite protests from citizens whose concerns included funding and traffic safety near St. Charles North High School.
Construction began soon thereafter on the estimated $30 million project. It is on track to finish in time for a Dec. 15 opening to vehicular traffic, and the suspended pedestrian and bike bridge should open next spring.
Third Ward alderman Bill Turner said it will be “well worth the wait.”
Although nothing yet spans the river, Turner left Monday’s tour saying it is better than he imagined. He already foresees people stopping along the pedestrian bridge to take photographs.
“I never realized the view people are going to have,” Turner said.
Work is keeping crews busy on weekdays and, because of the weather, even some recent Saturdays. Kevin Ahern, the construction project manager from Alfred Benesch & Company, said the location is one of the most scenic areas to work in.
“It’s a thrill to be out here,” Ahern said.
The seven piers were in varying stages Monday – two had yet to be built in the river – but the four lined up on the river’s eastern bank made it easy to visualize the path the two-lane bridge will one day follow.
The piers are expected to be finished by the end of July, Ahern said.
Gesturing to a pier, Ahern pointed out elements that will be used to suspend the pedestrian bridge and compared its challenging construction to that of an erector set.
According to the city, steel will be erected for the pedestrian bridge between late July and late August.
Other key construction dates include the following:
• Late July: Completion of utility installation – sewer, water main, electric
• Late August through mid-September: Pour concrete deck for pedestrian bridge
• September through mid-October: Erect steel for roadway bridge
• Mid-October through late November: Rebar and concrete for roadway bridge
• August through September: Red Gate roadway pavement
• Late November: Bridge approach pavements
Visit www.redgatebridge.org for more information, including photographs and live video from the work site.