Naperville begins work on the Washington Street Bridge project

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Stage one of construction has begun for the Washington Street Bridge replacement project, as well as improvements at the Washington Street and Aurora Avenue intersection.

“The progress that’s been made so far is all of the pre-construction progress,” said Director of the Transportation, Engineering, and Development (TED) Department Bill Novack. “Utilities have had to relocate. Nicor (Gas) has been doing a lot of work on Aurora Avenue and Chicago Avenue. They had to move their gas main out of the way on Washington Street. Contractors have done a tree removal. They’ve installed the temporary traffic signal poles.”

Naperville secured federal funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to complete construction through the Federal Bridge Program, which will cover 80 percent of the cost.

Four stages of construction

To lessen the traffic impact on the downtown area, the project will be completed in four stages. Stage one includes the demolition and replacement of the bridge’s east portion. Novack said the city does not plan to detour Washington Street traffic at any point during the construction.

“We have one lane going northbound, one lane going southbound, while the contractor removes the east half of the bridge, and rebuilds the new half,” said Novack. “That’s what will happen in 2023.”

Stage two will begin next year, as the city will shift its focus to rebuilding the bridge’s west side.

“Over the winter, we’ll switch traffic over to the new east half,” said Novack. “In (Spring) 2024, we’ll demolish the west half and rebuild that.”

Stage three will involve the completion of the centerpiece, while the final stage entails the completion of the east sidewalk, railing, and other amenities. Along with replacing the bridge, the project plans include the addition of a new electric duct bank, a water main, a sanitary sewer system, and an AT&T duct package.

Washington Street Bridge deterioration 

The replacement of the bridge has been in the works for over two decades.

“Back in 2000, the horizontal portion of the bridge’s top part was showing signs of distress, but the lower parts were not,” said Novack. “IDOT said you can do a new wearing surface and get another 10 to 20 years out of it, and then come back when all the components are of age. Here we are today where basically both the substructure and the superstructure are in need of complete replacement.”

In September 2022, IDOT recommended an 8-ton weight limit and lane closures on the Washington Street Bridge.

“The structure started to show some really bad signs in the last five years,” said Novack. “We’ve had to inspect them more often. We are still inspecting it every month since we have live traffic on there, especially during construction.”

The City of Naperville is anticipating the full project to be complete in the late summer, or early fall of 2024.

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