Nearly 31 months after the U.S. Highway 30 and Interstate 35 interchange project began, the light at the end of the tunnel for the $23 million project is quickly approaching.
Although there were a few bumps in the road as the construction’s completion date was pushed back nearly nine months, Jesse Thibodeau, Iowa Department of Transportation District One construction engineer, said the project is more than 90 percent complete.
“Progress has been going well lately, and their fourth and final deck pour is planned for (Aug. 1),” Thibodeau said. “We’re getting close, so once they finish the bridge deck, then all they have to do is the concrete and steel railings to keep cars on the road.”
Everything should be completed sometime in September, Thibodeau said.
The goal of the project is to reduce accidents at the busy interchange, he said.
The project replaces the cloverleaf design that is currently in place, and will reduce the amount of traffic caused by drivers crossing in and out of lanes to get on and off the highways, potentially leading to crashes, Thibodeau said.
A major setback to the project occurred when there were issues with some of the steel sleeves, which sit on top of the bridge piers, and line up the piers with the steel beams.
The contracting company, Minnowa Construction from Minnesota, had to correct these mistakes, delaying the project by several months.
Thibodeau said the company was charged $5,500 per working day past the project’s original deadline. Thibodeau said they will pay around $200,000 for the setback.
Attempts to reach Minnowa for comment were unsuccessful, as they did not return multiple telephone calls seeking comment.
Although the bridge’s project has taken longer than expected, Thibodeau expects that drivers will appreciate the upgrade.
“Once the bridge is open, I think everybody will be happy with the improvements,” he said.
He added that once the job is complete — he’ll be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
“It’s frustrating when I see it and it’s not complete, but I’ll be really happy once it’s open,” Thibodeau said.