by Joe Wilhelm Jr.
The yellow lines may be drying on Bay Street at Hogan’s Creek at 11:59 p.m. Aug. 8, but the City plans to have the bridge open by the Jaguars first preseason home game the next day.
The cement superstructure, which sits on top of the pilings in Hogan’s Creek, was in place three weeks ago. Cement was poured in the east approach Tuesday and the west approach will be poured soon. The job is estimated to be 75 percent completed with 38 business days left, said Frank Subjinski, vice-president and project manager from Lucas Marine Construction.
“We’ve been working overtime to overcome underground obstructions we encountered when placing the pilings,” said Subjinski. “We may take all the time we’ve been allotted, but we are intent on making the Aug. 9 deadline. The project should come together a lot quicker now that we are above ground.”
The orange detour signs have been at the intersection of Bay and Liberty streets since Jan. 21 directing traffic away from construction on the Hogan’s Creek bridge. That traffic, much of it large trucks coming from the Talleyrand area and heading to the interstates, has been diverted between the Arena and Maxwell House.
The approximately $3 million project has two purposes: to widen the bridge from two lanes to five and widen Hogan’s Creek to help stormwater drainage Downtown. The bridge will open with four lanes of traffic and the fifth will be added when Bay Street is eventually widened.
The project cost for Lucas will be expanded and a $50,000 fine will be assessed if they don’t meet the deadline.
There will be plenty of work to be done after the deadline is met. The sidewalks on the bridge may not be finished when traffic returns to Bay Street. Lucas is only required to have the road open by Aug. 9, so the sidewalks can be finished after the road is completed. There will also be more excavation along the creek beds of Hogan’s Creek to expand the waterway. This will allow stormwater to drain more quickly and alleviate flooding Downtown.
Lucas has until April of next year to complete the contract.
“We would like to have the road ready a couple of days before the football game, but delays happen,” said Bob Scott, project manager from the City’s Engineering Division. “As of (Tuesday), (Subjinski) feels he will meet the schedule.”