Downtown Washington Street Bridge Replacement Project
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Why is the bridge being replaced?
The bridge foundation was constructed in 1928, widened in the 1970s and renovated in 2004. The bridge components have reached the end of their effective service life. The bridge currently has a special weight load limit of 8 tons which prohibits use of the bridge by nearly all trucks. Replacing the bridge also provides the opportunity to improve the existing roadway geometrics, the functionality of the Riverwalk and overall aesthetics.
Is the existing bridge safe to use now?
The existing bridge is inspected regularly to confirm public safety. However, there is an 8-ton weight limit posted for this bridge in order to reduce damage from heavy loads like trucks.
The most recent inspection in September showed signs of increased deterioration. After consultation with bridge engineers from IDOT, the City was directed to lower the posted weight limit from 15 tons to 8 tons and close the outside southbound lane and the inside northbound lane. The lane closures will shift traffic flow away from the impacted area of the bridge and allow the City to prepare for a long-term solution. On-street parking on Washington Street will not be impacted.
When will construction begin? How will traffic be impacted by construction activities?
Work to completely reconstruct the bridge is expected to begin in spring 2023. The rehabilitation of the bridge will take place in multiple stages to ensure that a single lane of traffic is maintained in both directions at all times.
To lessen the impacts to the surrounding downtown, the bridge will be repaired in several stages. During the first stage, tentatively scheduled to begin in spring 2023, crews will demolish and replace the east side of bridge. North and southbound traffic will move to the west side of the bridge with one lane of traffic maintained in each direction. During the second stage, tentatively scheduled to begin in spring 2024 pending the completion of stage one, crews will demolish and replace the west side of the bride. North and southbound traffic will move to the east side of the bridge with one lane of traffic maintained in each direction. The third stage and fourth stages will begin at the completion of stage two and will entail the completion of the center piece (stage three) and the completion of the east sidewalk, railing, and other amenities (stage four).
Nearby bridges like Main Street and Eagle Street will enable access to the downtown from the south. Through traffic on Washington Street will need to allow for greater travel time or use alternate routes.
Once completed, the roadway will be widened from Aurora Avenue to Chicago Avenue to allow for a continuous left turn lane and two through lanes in each direction to reduce traffic congestion. An additional southbound right turn lane and eastbound left turn lane will also be added at the Aurora and Washington intersection. Sidewalks will be maintained on both sides of future Washington Street.
The City will continue to review options to create a traffic management plan to communicate road closures and optimize travel options.
Will business access near the bridge be affected?
Access to businesses around the construction zone and within the downtown is a priority. Work activities will be staged to maintain the ability to travel to and from businesses throughout the project.
Will the Riverwalk be improved as part of this project?
As part of this project, the current Riverwalk sidewalk under the bridge will be elevated to reduce the frequent flooding that occurs. Other improvements associated with the bridge will further enhance the Riverwalk by providing a more park-like riverscape, improving visual aesthetics, lighting and pedestrian mobility. Separate plans by North Central College at 430 S. Washington Street will connect the existing covered footbridge at Fredenhagen Park to the Riverwalk west of the Washington Street Bridge.
What will the bridge look like when completed?
Complementing the traffic and pedestrian mobility improvements the bridge will provide, the City intends to make the bridge safer and more visually paired with the beauty of adjacent parks and downtown architecture. This will include bridge improvements to provide sidewalks wide enough to carry two-way travel, barrier wall separation from traffic, architectural style and streetscape features like decorative lighting and landscaping. All of these improvements will be consistent with the current downtown streetscape standards and be similar in function to the Main Street and Eagle Street bridges.
What’s the estimated cost of the project and how is it being funded?
The City has secured federal funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) to perform the project through the Federal Bridge Program, which will cover 80 percent of the cost. As of September 2022, Naperville’s 20% share is $3.2 million, which includes construction costs of $3 million and engineering costs of $210,600.
Will there be any property acquisition required?
Traffic studies have been performed to identify ways to reduce crashes and traffic congestion and travel delays. The preferred solution involves widening the bridge to five lanes which improves the left turn lanes at Chicago Avenue and Aurora Avenue and also includes the addition of right turn lanes at the intersection of Aurora Avenue and Washington Street. To accomplish these improvements, additional right-of-way on the east and west side of Washington Street from the bridge to Aurora Avenue and on the east side of Washington Street from Chicago Avenue to the bridge is required. The additional right-of-way is necessary to relocate the sidewalks making room for the additional turn lanes. Property owners will be compensated for land which is acquired. The required land acquisition of six properties was completed in September 2022.
Will any utility work be done as part of the project?
River crossings are very vital to utilities like water, sewage, electric, communication and natural gas. All these utilities will be included in the planning for this project. It is anticipated that most utilities will be improved during this project. Each utility provider will work with their customers as part of the project.
How has the community been involved?
Input from the community has been very important to make this project successful. The City hosted a first public meeting on February 9, 2017 and a second public meeting on September 20, 2017. Both meetings were well attended and very useful input was provided by public comments. As the project moves forward toward construction, additional meetings with stakeholders will also occur to assure that communication and coordination is at a high level. The City frequently updates the project webpage with updates, as well as sends updates via press releases, social media and electronic newsletter, which you can sign up to receive on the project webpage.
(updated October 2022)