No joke: bridge construction starts on April Fool's

Published 04/01 2013 05:25PM

Updated 04/01 2013 05:28PM

CHAMPAIGN -- Bridge work starting Monday could cause headaches for drivers during the next few months. The Windsor Road Bridge over I-57 will be removed and replaced. But people who live nearby said it will be well worth the $2.3 million price tag.

Suzanne O'Connell loves to walk, but there's one place she wouldn't dare go: the Windsor Road Bridge. Walkers and bike riders have had to share the street with drivers on Windsor Road. But people who live in the area said they'll be happy when they don't have to do that anymore.

"I'm terrified when I have to drive by people on bicycles and walkers with cars coming the other way," said O'Connell. "It's so dangerous and so narrow for the pedestrians."

IDOT workers aren't joking when they said they'll start construction on April Fool's. They already have orange signs up and ready to go.

"We have a lot of calls over that way," said Champaign Fire Department Lt. Darrell Carlson. "It was no doubt a concern of delayed response."

Champaign firefighters at station six were worried when they first heard the news. That's because just one lane will be open from now until November, with temporary traffic signals so drivers know when it's their turn. But first responders have a special device that will give them the green light.

"It's supposed to take 45 seconds max to clear that lane of traffic so we can proceed to the call," said Carlson.

The new bridge will have wider lanes, bike paths and sidewalks. That will make it safer for everyone who needs to use it.

"Whenever there's traffic that comes over that bridge, there's a jogger or someone on a bicycle, it's really a hazard," said Carlson.

And people like O'Connell will be happy when it's done.

"It's something that definitely needs to be done and too bad it wasn't done in the first place," said O'Connell.

Drivers on who use I-57 should also take notice. The highway will be closed and traffic will be rerouted so workers can get the old bridge out and bring new materials in. That will only happen on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays from 10 pm to 6 am. Workers expect to be done by November 1.

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