$78 million secured to redesign and construct Florence Bridge replacement

Published: Nov. 22, 2022 at 6:32 PM CST
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WINCHESTER, Ill. (WGEM) - The almost century-old lift bridge, Florence Bridge, that connects Scott and Pike Counties over the Illinois River is going to be replaced.

The bridge has caused problems for years due to inspections, closures, and even crashes with a vehicle running into it’s gate back in September.

IDOT engineer Jeff Myers said they now have $78 million to design and put in a new bridge.

“The new bridge will be on a new alignment,” Myers said. “About 300 feet south of the existing bridge. So, while the work is being done to build the new bridge, traffic should still be able to be maintained on the existing bridge.”

Pike County resident Sally Deitsch who lives right by the bridge has been skeptical for a while as to whether or not it would get replaced.

“I don’t look for it to happen,” Deitsch said. “I keep saying in my lifetime. And I’m 83.”

She said she once owned the bar right next to the bridge for 35 years and constant bridge closures hurt her business.

“It was closed for nine months once while they fixed it,” Deitsch said. “And that was bad because a lot of our customers come from Winchester, Bluffs and over that side.”

Myers said there are other reasons that factor into why the bridge needs replaced.

“Right now, it’s 202 feet,” Myers said. “It’s a little narrow for the barge traffic to use the river.”

Myers said replacing the lift bridge with a higher bridge eliminates the need to constantly raise and lower it.

“Gets rid of some of the moving parts from that bridge as well,” Myers said.

Myers said the bridge is still in the design phase and construction is expected to start between 2024 and 2026.

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