McClugage Bridge (Diverting Waters at Illinois River) EXPANDED
Debbie Reaney & Jeff Riggs
McClugage Bridge, in the Peoria, IL area, has been carrying over 20,000 daily commuters on the US 150 throughfare over the Illinois River for nearly 75 years. The landmark bridge, named after David H. McClugage; mayor of Peoria from 1937 to 1941, was built in 1948 just after World War II. It is being upgraded with a new, modern design that will improve safety, regional mobility, and quality of life, while positioning the area for long-term economic opportunity.
This $167 million project, which has remained mostly on budget, was funded by the Governor's historic bipartisan Rebuild Illinois capital plan. It is one of the state's largest infrastructure projects. Rebuild Illinois is not only the largest capital program in state history creating jobs and promoting economic growth, but it is also the first to touch all modes of Illinois transportation: roads and bridges, transit, waterways, freight and passenger rail, aviation, and bicycle and pedestrian accommodations. ("Gov. Pritzker announces $94 million from Rebuild Illinois to revitalize ...") The renovation of the existing structure was not an easy task and the first step of this project required that the eastbound McClugage Bridge be removed and replaced with a new structure to meet the region's transportation needs. The goal for the new bridge is to have vehicles back on the eastbound span by spring 2024 with the old bridge demolition planned for late 2024, early 2025.
Extreme weather, decades of high-volume vehicle use, and massive amounts of salt used in snow removal over the years have caused the bridge to deteriorate, creating an urgency to commence some long-awaited improvements. Reconstruction of the eastbound span of the bridge began in 2019, requiring over 121,000 cubic yards of earth excavation and the building of a temporary bridge before incorporating a tied-arch design. Eventually, it will include a third lane to better accommodate current volumes and anticipated growth in the region. Improved ramps at Illinois 29 and 116 will also be built to eliminate frequent stopping and facilitate smoother traffic flow, but like every successful building project, securing support for the bridge and all its features starts with a sturdy foundation.
IDOT (Illinois Department of Transportation) awarded Johnson Brothers Corporation/American Bridge Company of Coraopolis, PA with the opportunity to create a dry workspace for building the piers that will support the structure's 40 million pounds (about 18,143,680 kg) of steel. The contractor was selected for this mega project due to their proven technical expertise and years of deep foundation experience which has proven to be unbelievably valuable for this high-profile renovation. In the past year, crews have worked through the snow, sun and storms and are currently nearing completion of 22 new piers each measuring 11' (ft) thick and rising 30' to 40'(ft) in the air. Their completion will deliver the bedrock for the next phase of construction: the arch. As of IDOT's last update in February 2023, just a short distance south of the new bridge site are green pilings that will support a temporary trestle used to build the structure's centerpiece. The designing of this cofferdam, a vital role in construction engineering, will facilitate pier construction and increase efficiency on the project. Cofferdams are a much safer option for controlling water flow compared to other methods like using divers when underwater construction is needed. Due to the size and scope of this project, cellular cofferdams are also being utilized.
To accomplish this massive undertaking over the past four years on this project, Johnson Brothers/American Bridge has utilized a variety of multi-faceted ICE® (International Construction Equipment, Inc.) equipment with many different driving capabilities, multiple distinct levels of force, and special customization which is something ICE® prides itself on providing. This job has used an ICE® Model 50C Vibratory Driver and Extractor, (2) ICE® Model 50B Vibratory Driver and Extractors, ICE® Model 44 Vibratory Driver and Extractor, ICE® Model I-46 Diesel hammer, and an ICE® I-80 Diesel hammer. The 50C Vibratory Hammer/Extractor is being used to drive vertical and battered pipe pile measuring 32" (in) diameter and 50' (ft) in length into the river for a temporary bridge and the ICE® I-80 Diesel Impact Hammer is being used to proof off the 32" pipe, driving them to bedrock. To help maintain a dry working environment for the crew, two additional 50 B's and a 44 vibratory hammer are being utilized to drive the sheet piling to create multiple temporary cofferdams to form a watertight enclosure around the worksite. The I-46 diesel hammer is being used to drive the bearing piles within the cofferdam. Any water inside the enclosure is removed with bypass pumps utilizing their own previously purchased ICE® Power Unit with its adjustable flow control system that was further customized for them by the ICE® Service team. Thus, enabling the use of a custom clean-out solution to excavate the oversized cofferdams.
Johnson Brothers/American Bridge's phenomenal team finished construction on ten new McClugage bridge piers in 2022, moving the project to within three new piers of the 22 required to support the deck. This past winter, workers have continued to press through to complete those structures, overcoming the elements and building momentum as the project moves closer to the finish line. As these 22 new piers near completion and the 650-foot-long arch is under construction, the new eastbound McClugage Bridge has started taking shape, and the goal is within view.
Within the next few months, the bridge substructure will be completed while workers simultaneously construct a signature 650' (ft) tied arch span over the navigational channel that will sit atop the new bridge. Once the foundation is complete, this massive arch will then be hoisted onto the bridge with cranes and will sit 130' (ft) above deck. When it is placed on top of the structure, it will be an astounding 780' (ft) tall. That is an impressive 35' (ft) taller than the Golden Gate Bridge and will certainly distinguish the McClugage Bridge as an engineering marvel for many generations to come.
This amazing feat of precise engineering will certainly be the crowning jewel distinguishing the bridge along the waterway. In fact, construction of the arch is occurring just 300 yards (less than a quarter of a mile) south of the new bridge site and can be identified by the green piling on the Illinois River. The new eastbound McClugage Bridge is expected to open in 2024 featuring wider shoulders for vehicle breakdowns and first responders as well as a 14' (ft) wide path for hikers and bicyclists featuring a river overlook and trailhead entrances added on both sides of the bridge. After all the significant construction progress made in 2022, the new eastbound McClugage Bridge is gradually moving toward the finish line. Once this portion of the project is finalized, an additional year will be dedicated to updating the bridge's area over Adams Street and removing the old structure. The Commuters in Peoria will be thrilled with Johnson Brothers/American Bridge Company to see improved safety, higher capacity, roadway improvements at ramps and intersections, and a reduction in travel times upon the project's completion, not to mention the added benefits of bike and pedestrian accommodations along with a spectacular view of the Illinois River. This is a project everyone should travel to see.
Pollyanna Cunningham, MA, MBA
Vice President Marketing, Brand and Media Relations
Vice President IT and IT Comm
ICE® - International Construction Equipment, Inc
Office - 704-821-8200
Email - firstname.lastname@example.org
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