Published Nov. 26, 2015
New Oak Street bridge to make its debut Tuesday
By Ken Knutson
Hinsdale officials say the reconstructed Oak Street bridge is on track to welcome back traffic on Tuesday, Dec. 1.
Substantial completion of the bridge will mark the end of a nearly five-year process.
Trustee Laura LaPlaca helmed the first public meeting to discuss the bridge reconstruction project back on Feb. 17, 2011. She said seeing it reach a conclusion is gratifying.
“It’s great. I’m very excited,” LaPlaca said.
She admitted to having her doubts when project contractor Kenny Construction said the company would need only six to seven months to from start to finish. The bridge has been closed since May 19.
“We really thought the bridge would be closed for a year,” LaPlaca said.
She credited favorable weather and Kenny Construction’s experienced management with staying faithful to the schedule.
"They have a lot of experience and have been great in terms of getting everything done the way it’s supposed to,” she said, noting that weekend construction hours were expanded to allow work during times of lighter train traffic on the BNSF Railroad. “It has been a pretty bumpless project.”
At the Nov. 3 village board meeting, village engineer Dan Deeter informed trustees of the Dec. 1 completion target, which elicited a confession of pessimism from Village President Tom Cauley.
“I have to tell you, I was skeptical,” he said.
Officials said temporary fencing will be installed on the bridge for four to six weeks while the permanent wrought-iron fencing is fabricated. It will match the fencing style of Hinsdale’s Metra stations.
And work on landscape restoration will continue as weather allows.
LaPlaca that at $6.9 million, the bridge is the most expensive one-time project the village has undertaken. It was funded through a combination of federal, state and local grants.
The two-lane concrete structure replaces the old wooden bridge, portions of which were more than 100 years old. The new bridge will feature separated sidewalks along both sides.
LaPlaca expects the transformation will require an period of acclimation for some residents.
“It’s very different than the old one,” she said. “But I think it’s really beautiful and I think it’s going to be a great addition to the community.”
About 150 souvenir pieces from the old bridge have been distributed, LaPlaca reported, and there are still some available. Interested residents can call Suzanne Ostrovsky at (630) 789-7010.
Working in such a relatively tight area and in coordination with a railroad is never easy, LaPlaca suggested, making the project’s success that much more satisfying.
“It was challenging,” she said. “I’m glad it went well because something of that magnitude you don’t want to have problems with.”
For more information on the Oak Street bridge reconstruction, visit oakstreetbridgeproject.com.