Bradley overpass replacement to start in 2019


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CHAMPAIGN — The Champaign City Council has approved replacing the Bradley Avenue bridge across Interstate 57 to make it safer for travelers, especially pedestrians and cyclists.

The Illinois Department of Transportation will replace the bridge as well as renovate its approaches and improve the surrounding area. The project, which will cost the city $619,395, received unanimous council approval and two resident statements of support Tuesday night.

Construction is slated to begin in 2019, when the two-lane bridge will turn 56 years old. Two 11-foot traffic lanes will be created, according to a city staff report, in addition to a 6-foot bike lane and 6-foot sidewalk on each side.

Both sides of the bridge will be bordered by fencing. For the bridge approaches, which will be widened, the existing concrete will stay while the asphalt on top is replaced.

While IDOT is responsible for maintaining highway overpasses, city governments typically take care of bridge approaches. But Chris Sokolowski, an assistant city engineer, said Champaign coordinated with IDOT to incorporate both parts into the same project — which he said will make it go faster and cost less.

"It made more sense for (IDOT) to be the lead agency on this," Sokolowski said of the project.

"IDOT has been coordinating with us the entire way with design elements on the approaches, like lighting."

As for the general enhancements to the bridge's surrounding area, they will be implemented sometime in 2020, once the bridge is finished. They will be on parts of Duncan and Staley roads, according to the report.

Included in those improvements are sidewalk construction, added street lighting, concrete pavement repairs, curb and gutter modifications and installation of a traffic signal at the intersection of Bradley Avenue and Duncan Road.

The city and IDOT both will pay for the project. Initially, the city would have had to chip in $1,857,717, but an Illinois Transportation Enhancement Program grant was applied to bring that cost down.

While the Bradley Avenue bridge has been deemed a hazard by some residents, including the two who spoke Tuesday night, the Kirby Avenue bridge over I-57 has received similar safety complaints. It's also decades old and has no pedestrian or bicycle lanes.

In the past couple of years, some neighborhood groups have urged the city council to negotiate with IDOT to prioritize or move up Kirby bridge renovations — slated for 2023.

But Sokolowski said IDOT won't budge after evaluating both bridges and determining that the Bradley work is more urgent.

In the meantime, the city lowered the Kirby Avenue bridge speed limit to 35 miles per hour and added flashing lights for pedestrians and cyclists.