End In Sight For Year-Long Lincoln Street Bridge Project

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Sunday, August 19, 2012

A construction project that's forced south Wichita drivers to take detours for a year is on schedule to wrap up in just a couple of months.

Last year, city crews began building a new Lincoln Street bridge over the Arkansas River near McLean Boulevard and a new damn south of it.

City engineers tell us thanks to mild weather and a very dry year they are right on schedule to finish this fall. The final product won't just be a newer, safer bridge. There will be a few additions that were not there before.

The dam is basically finished. So is the south half of the bridge and city engineers say they hope to pour concrete on the north half this week. They still have a couple of weeks of work left and they say when they're finished they think this will be a really impressive part of the river people will want to come enjoy.

We me the Loux family while they were out for a Sunday stroll. They told us they wanted to walk down and see how construction is coming along on the new Lincoln Street bridge.

“It's completely different. It doesn't look anything like it did at all. It's just completely new. It looks really nice,” Joshua Loux said.

City engineers say they're just as happy with the progress.

"We're excited about having the project coming to an end. It's really turned out to be a neat deal,” Interim City Engineer Gary Janzen said.

There's still a lot work to do. They're adding look out points on the bridge, extra lighting and landscaping around the river and a boat and fish pass so fish can get upstream and boats can navigate around the dam easily.

“It adds a feature there that allows them to use the river more,” Janzen said.

Janzen says when construction clears out, he thinks people will be happy with the new and improved Lincoln Street bridge area. The Loux family tells us they're already excited to see the finished product and think it will draw more people to this part of the river.

"Maybe it will lengthen the area of the river being used so it's not so crowded. It will spread out the people a little bit somewhat and hopefully that will be a plus also,” Loux said.

City engineers say they're still on track to finish by this November. The bridge will be last part of the project they finish, so it will remain closed to traffic until the fall.

The city engineer we spoke with said the bridge itself will be much easier to maintain than the original bridge. When it's finished the entire project will have lasted a year and a half and cost $17 million.

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