CHICAGO�James McHugh Construction Co. of Chicago has substantially completed reconstruction of the original 10-span arch bridge over the Fox River on the Reagan Memorial Tollway (I-88) six months ahead of schedule.
The span replicates the original 1958 bridge with a series of five arches, rarely seen in modern infrastructure construction. McHugh completed a virtually identical new eastbound bridge in 2008.
The two bridges increase traffic capacity to three lanes with full shoulders in each direction instead of two under the Illinois Tollway�s $6.3 billion Congestion Relief Program. Under the original contract, the bridge was slated for completion in May 2010; instead, the bridge opened on December 2, 2009. McHugh served as general contractor for the project, with Chicago-based Teng & Associates the engineers of record.
The learning curve developed from building the first bridge helped McHugh complete the work so early, says Michael Gould, McHugh vice president of infrastructure, as did a good rapport with the Tollway.
�We had an excellent relationship with the Tollway, built during the first bridge, and that made a difference,� Gould said. �We also worked to compress the schedule and really pushed ourselves as much as possible.�
Some work will continue into spring to complete a small section of pavement between the two IL Route 31 ramps; it could not be completed until the new westbound bridge opened. Some median work on the mainline also continues, as well as some landscaping work under the bridge that could not be executed in the winter.
Among the project�s challenges were building in the river and demolishing the existing 1958 bridge. The Fox River is not navigable around the bridge, and subject to constant rapid water flows. McHugh worked from the river�s banks and built temporary access structures, including a temporary bridge, to deliver materials and perform work while maintaining the river�s flow, says Gould. While building the new eastbound span, McHugh persevered through a 500-year flood event and two 100-year flood events. As a result, the team was better prepared for the changing dynamics of the Fox River during construction of the westbound bridge.
The new bridge is 1,345 ft long, supported by 10 spans underneath the roadway, including five 178-foot-long spans. The five arches were created using 40 structural precast concrete arch segments, each weighing 92 tons, cast nearby by McHugh and then carefully trucked to the river. The team reused several of the existing bridge�s rock foundations.