The lack of rain clouds over Columbia this summer has had at least one silver lining: speeding up the construction of the East Broadway bridge.
The project is two weeks ahead of schedule, according to Pat Fitzgerald, supervising engineer for the Columbia Public Works Department.
Emery, Sapp & Sons Inc. started construction on the $4.8 million project on Jan. 3. The project is slated to build the bridge and expand a section of Broadway to four lanes.
The city expected to finish the job by the end of the year, but because workers did not lose many of the days they budgeted for inclimate weather, the road and bridge are ahead of schedule. They expect both to open sometime in October or November, said Fitzgerald. Chip Jones, the project manager at Emery, Sapp & Sons, gave the same timeline.
Emery, Sapp & Sons has 81 work days remaining and has been paid $2.8 million for work already done, Fitzgerald said.
The contractors are now putting false decking in place on the bridge, the final step before concrete is poured for the deck of the bridge, Jones said.
The improvements to East Broadway between Old 63 and U.S. 63 include expanding the road to four lanes, building a four-lane bridge and installing sidewalks across the bridge and under it.
The changes were designed to alleviate traffic problems in the area, said Mike Simmons, chief construction inspector at Public Works Construction.
“The growth of the town has dictated that it needed to be a four-lane road,” he said. “It has always been congested.”
The two-lane bridge was at the end of its useful life, Fitzgerald said.
“It wasn’t adequate to carry the (traffic) load,” he said. “It was in pretty poor shape.”