The new Old Plank Road Trail Bridge over Interstate 80 in New Lenox was installed in two phases this week.
The northern span over the westbound lanes of I-80 went up Wednesday, and the southern span over the eastbound lanes was set into place Thursday.
The Illinois Department of Transportation is replacing the old bridge as part of its plan to improve and widen the I-80/Route 30 interchange. The new bridge sits wider and higher on I-80 than the old one, requirements that were necessary for the future interchange improvement project.
The $1.4 million project has created a more aesthetically pleasing trip for trail users because the new bridge is lighter in appearance. The pedestrian bridge is a 227-foot bow truss structure. It will replace a 171-foot two-span through plate girder structure that was originally constructed in 1964 to carry the Joliet and Northern Indiana Railroad over the interstate.
The new bridge will open after the contractor hired by IDOT pours a concrete deck on the bridge and creates asphalt links to the existing OPRT, work that will take around two weeks. Trail users will not be affected by the project because the old bridge will not be removed until the new one has opened for pedestrians and bikes.
The 22-mile OPRT stretches from Joliet to Chicago Heights and is owned and managed by six governmental agencies, including the Forest Preserve District.