Naperville bridge will be reduced to one lane for weight limit starting Thursday
The Washington Street bridge in Naperville, which is scheduled for major construction work beginning next spring, will be reduced to one lane in each direction after a recent inspection unexpectedly revealed an eight-ton weight limit needs to be in place to ensure safety.
The road closures go into effect Thursday and will remain until the replacement of the 40-year-old bridge is completed sometime in fall 2024, according to city officials.
The bridge, which spans the DuPage River between Chicago and Aurora avenues in the heart of downtown Naperville, is a critical thoroughfare that sees tens of thousands of vehicles cross it every day. City officials advise motorists to allow extra time when driving through the area or seek alternate routes.
Bill Novack, the city's director of transportation, engineering and development, told city council members during Tuesday's meeting that the biggest traffic impact will be felt during the morning and evening rush hours. He said backups won't be as noticeable the rest of the day because the four blocks north of the bridge are regularly down to one lane due to open street parking.
"We're implementing this lane reduction about five months early," Novack said. "We're implementing it right now in October, and my hope was that it was going to be the beginning of March."
The outside southbound lane and the inside northbound lane will be closed on Washington Street. In addition, the inside eastbound lane on Aurora Avenue between Main and Washington streets will be closed, the inside eastbound lane between Webster and Main streets will be converted into a left-turn-only lane, and the outside southbound lane on Washington Street between Jackson and Chicago avenues will be converted into a right-turn-only lane.
Federal funding through the Illinois Department of Transportation will pay for 80% of the bridge replacement cost, with the city's share slated to be about $3.2 million. Construction will occur in four stages so one lane can remain open in each direction on Washington Street.
City officials have known for several years that extensive work was needed on the bridge. In 2016, a 15-ton weight limit was put in place, and monthly inspections started in 2019.
If bridge construction is completed by fall 2024, the lane closures will be in place for about two years.
"I am disappointed and sorry that this didn't hold on for another five months," Novack said. "It's not a huge impact. But it is an impact."