Written by Jack McCarthy   
Thursday, 26 December 2013 14:51

bridge-2 COLOR

Thick steel cables anchored to the span help support the new Morgan
Street Bridge linking two South Side neighborhoods. (News Bulletin photo)

Roads were noticeably slick on Saturday but the new Morgan Street Bridge was unaffected as it handled its first full day of traffic.

Nearby parking lots and some streets had an icy coating but light traffic moved quickly across the well-salted four-lane span over the Rock River which had officially opened a day earlier.

The $40 million project finished a week ahead of schedule and right on budget as it reconnected two South Side Rockford neighborhoods. A ribbon-cutting ceremony attended by
Gov. Pat Quinn and other local and regional officials made the opening official.

“Residents and businesses who need to cross the Rock River now have a better way,” Quinn said at the dedication. “We expect as many as 60,000 people will use the new Morgan
Street Bridge each day, improving commerce and quality of life throughout the Rockford area.”

The arched bridge is painted white and has red and green lighting for the holiday season.

The bridge measures 497-feet and features a 370-foot tiered main archway that’s anchored to each bank. Suspension cables run from the top of the arch to help support the roadway.

The design eliminates piers in the river that supported the previous the span.

The original Morgan Street Bridge was built in 1916 and rebuilt in 1960. It was recommended for replacement in 2000 and took nearly 14 years for it to be fully realized. In addition to a four-lane crossing for vehicles, there’s also new lighting, railings plus an eight-foot sidewalk on the bridge’s north side and a 12-foot wide multi-use path on the south.

“The bridge is very important to the entire South Side of the city of Rockford,” said Patrick Zuroske, Capital Improvement Program manager in a pre-construction statement. “It not only connects one side of the river to the other, but in connects neighborhoods, it gives us a very important transit point for commerce and culturally it connects neighborhoods that have been connected for a long time.”

The bridge itself costs $29 million and included funding from the Federal Highway Major Bridge Fund ($21.17 million), Quinn’s Illinois Jobs Now! fund ($4.26 million) and $3.55 from the city of Rockford.

The project also featured another $11 million in road work on both sides. Two streets — College Ave. from the bridge to
Kishwaukee Street and Morgan St. to South Main — were reconstructed along with intersection improvements.

City officials estimated the project used 4.2 million pounds of structural steel and 500,000 pounds of steel reinforcement bars for the concrete deck.

Morgan Street Bridge is the latest in a series of downtown infrastructure projects.

“Now you’ve got the river walk and Auburn St. roundabout; you’ve got the Morgan St. Bridge and West State St. and South Main,” said Tim Hanson, Rockford public works director. “It keeps on going.”

—Jack McCarthy

Last Updated on Thursday, 26 December 2013 15:40
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