Bridge construction falls behind


After having a late start in 2013, the Mehaffey Bridge project has hit another snag.

Flooding in June and July has put the nearly $9 million project four weeks behind schedule, said Assistant County Engineer Ed Bartels.

“We lost about a month work of progress,” he said. “[The water] was just so high, [the contractor] could not physically work.”

With waters just below the spillway, waters became too high for construction to continue.

Assistant County Engineer Neil Shatek said contractors had to remove the cranes during the flooding.

“It did delay things with the water level being higher,” he said. “They weren’t able to work on the bridge without their cranes.”

Bartels said that since construction started in the spring of 2013, the project has ran into several weather issues. Last year was very wet, and he said this past harsh winter put the project behind schedule, too.

“If we’re able to complete this before this calendar year, it is our preferred course of action,” Bartels said. “But if we can’t get to November before it gets cold and nasty, then we’ll hold off until next year.”

Bartels said officials will not know how much the schedule will be delayed until the coming months.

“We’re working hard trying to get the project done,” he said. “We’re evaluating the schedule now that water’s gone down, so we can cooperate and get the project done on time.”

The budget for the $8.9 million bridge will not change because of the weather problems, and Bartels said there was a small fee for the contractors to ensure the county would share some of the risks involved with setbacks.

“I am really proud of our contractor,” Bartels said. “He’s made up some time lost from last year and has been diligent about it. Hopefully, he can complete project by late November.”

Mehaffey Bridge is not the only area under construction.

Mehaffey Bridge Road, which is a nearly $4 million project funded through the city of North Liberty, was also affected by the recent flooding.

The project is widening and repaving Mehaffey Bridge Road.

Don Colony, the street superintendent for North Liberty, said there was a five-day delay for construction on the road.

The construction is now moving forward.

“Next week, the final 2-inch finish will be done for the black-top surface,” Colony said. “As they’re waiting for that, they’re doing some work on shoulders and some cleaning up on areas. We hope to open within the month, but as far as construction, on our part, should be done in about a month.”

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