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Spanning the gap: Construction of York Street bridges progressing

March 23, 2017 GMT

With help of a huge crane, workers building the new bridges on York Street began laying beams across the gap over the railroad tracks on the southbound side Wednesday morning.

“Hopefully, by the end of the week, they will have all the beams in place and the rest of the steel structure in place for both the southbound bridge and the northbound bridge,” said Bobby Usry, who is the South Carolina Department of Transportation’s resident construction engineer for Aiken County.

The United Infrastructure Group is the contractor for the $3.8-million construction project that began last September. The old historic wooden bridges between Park and Colleton avenues were removed, and they now are being replaced with bridges made of both steel and wood that are designed to be safer and last longer.

“Toward the end of next week, we should see some of the wooden superstructure start coming together on top of the steel beams,” Usry said.

Under the United Infrastructure Group’s contract with the South Carolina Department of Transportation, or SCDOT, the bridges were supposed to be open to traffic by March 12.

The company missed that deadline, but it shouldn’t be too much longer until the project is finished.

“There are still a lot of things that could move around a little bit within the schedule, but the ultimate goal right now – and what they have discussed with me – is a completion date around April 26,” Usry said. “There may be some incidental stuff that still has to be done, but cars will be able to go across them (the bridges).”

During Masters Week in early April, construction was supposed to stop temporarily, but the City of Aiken recently agreed to allow it to continue, Usry said.

The twin 70-foot, single-span bridges each will have a 5½-foot raised sidewalk. The wooden components will be made of Douglas fir and Southern yellow pine.

“These bridges are unique, and they’re not the typical bridges that SCDOT builds,” Usry said. “There were some delays in the manufacturing process for the wooden parts, which were made in Oregon, and there also were some delivery difficulties. Other things also have taken longer than anticipated like soil stabilization on the embankments. They had to get a little creative about how to access a couple of the locations.”

In general, Usry added, SCDOT has been pleased with the the United Infrastructure Group’s performance.

“They had some restrictions in their contract as far as the days of the week they were allowed to work and the times they were allowed to work,” Usry said. “They’ve worked within that schedule as much as they could, and they’ve stayed with it pretty well out there. They’ve also brought in an extra crew to try and expedite some of this stuff.”

Because the contract includes liquidated damages, Usry said, the United Infrastructure Group is required to provide SCDOT with financial compensation for each day work continues beyond the agreement’s mandated completion date.

“They know what they are facing, and if they feel like any delay was completely out of their control, they can state their case,” Usry said. “Then, of course, we’ll review it, and if necessary, negotiate what’s going to be applied to them.”