Engineers overseeing the U.S. Highway 34 – Missouri River bridge projects in western Mills County say substantial progress was made over the summer and they’re optimistic construction work will stay on schedule.
“I think things are moving along fairly well. Obviously, it’s helped that we haven’t had a lot of rain the last couple summers,” Jensen Construction project engineer Landon Streit said. “The river’s been pretty stable. The only time it really came up was after Memorial Day.”
Jensen Construction is overseeing the Missouri River bridge building on both the Iowa and Nebraska sides of the river.
Streit said he expects all of the bridge’s steel beams to be in place by the end of 2013 in addition to a few sections of concrete decking. Work on railings will begin in the spring.
“The schedule will be determined by the weather, but I think we’re still looking good for completion by the end of 2014,” Streit said.
Iowa Department of Transportation Project Engineer Scott Nixon said steady progress is also being made on the Highway 34 extension and redesign of the Highway 34-Interstate 29 interchange. Motorists at the interchange can expect to see some changes in traffic routing over the next couple months.
“Traffic will be switched over to the new overpass later this year,” Nixon said.
Presently, both eastbound and westbound motorists on Highway 34 are utilizing the existing overpass over Interstate 29. Once work on the new eastbound overpass is completed, traffic in both directions will be rerouted to that bridge. The existing overpass will be replaced with a new two-lane westbound bridge.
Before the end of the year, Nixon said motorists can also expect to be utilizing the new southbound Interstate 29 exit ramp at the Highway 34 interchange. Although concrete has already been poured, Nixon said he is uncertain when the new northbound I-29 entrance from Highway 34 would start being utilized.
“They’ve made a lot of progress on this project,” Nixon said.
Both Streit and Nixon accompanied representatives of the Mills County Economic Foundation on a recent tour to the Missouri River Bridge construction site. Economic development foundation members were given an update on both portions of the project.
The four-lane Missouri Bridge will be 3,280 feet long and stand about 65 feet above the surface. Eleven of the bridge’s 17 piers will be on the Iowa side of the bridge, four will be in Nebraska and two will rest directly over the water.