Lowry Bridge replacement project on track for 2012 completion

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Paul Backer says that 2011 shaping up to be “a very active year for the project.”

The project is the new Lowry Avenue Bridge, and as Hennepin County’s construction project engineer, he’s in a position to know. And the weather, he said, hasn’t been that much of a factor.; they’re “working every day that there hasn’t been a major weather event.” When it comes to the everyday nasty winter weather, he said, “we put our heads down and work right through that.”

“We’ve completed the bridge’s pier supports in the river,” he said, and they’re now “connecting the river piers to the land.”

The support structure should be “connected across [the river] by late summer.”

Then there’ll be “a lot of detail work to finish,” including the concrete deck, which he expects will be completed in late 2011 or in spring of 2012.

“We’re focused on opening at the end of June or the first of July, 2012,” he said. “That’s always been the target for us.”

Any snags? Just one that he can think of, he said. “We found an old, old water main that ran underneath the river, east and west, probably from about 1904 or 1905. No one in the City of Minneapolis was aware of it,” he said.

And it was quite a surprise, he said, for workers to be digging under the river bottom and “encounter something hard.”

But, he said, it was “not a challenge we couldn’t overcome.”

He said county officials again plan to have a presentation for the public during Art-A-Whirl in May. “We’ll have some kind of setup there,” he said, but they are “not sure of the place, and not sure of the exact logistics.”

For updates, he refers readers to the web site lowryavenuebridge.com.