A barge hitting the bridge? When did it happen and what was the cause?
Illinois River Bridge at Florence Illinois on January 10th 2016 after a barge hit the bridge earlier that morning.
Bridge Dedication newspaper article from May 1930:
THOUSANDS THRONG RIVER BANK AND BRIDGE WHILE GOVERNOR EMMERSON DEDICATES THE BRIDGE AT FLORENCE (MAY 1930)
State Officials Accompany the Governor for Opening of the Longest Bridge in the State of Illinois, Monday Afternoon
The Illinois River Bridge at Florence was formally dedicated and opened to traffic by a short but impressive ceremony Monday afternoon (May 19th 1930). Governor Louis L Emmerson and his party arrived promptly at the scheduled hour of 2 o’clock and heralded by the Jacksonville State Hospital Band, proceeded in their automobiles under direction of Chief W L Moody and the state police across the length of the new bridge, the longest in the state.
After the special cars, the governor’s car, and others bearing Director H H Cleavland of the State Department of Public Works and Buildings and Frank T Sheets, chief engineer of the highway department, had crossed the bridge they returned to the lift span where leaving their automobiles the governor and officials were spectacularly elevated to the height of the lift and again lowered to the bridge’s level giving the spectators the opportunity of viewing the mechanism of the great bridge which may be brought into use when the giant river craft begin to navigate the Lakes-to-Gulf Waterway.
It seemed a pity that the crowds of people who came long distances to see some sort of pageantry should have been so deeply disappointed. The state was unwilling to furnish necessary funds for any elaborate program and no one in the adjoining counties cared to “pass the hat”. Since time began the human heart has craved a spectacle and the occasion was of sufficient importance to the descendants of those hardy and courageous individuals who settle the shores of one of the most important rivers in the middle west to make it almost imperative that some respect be paid to them by way of celebration.
The state police had planned very effectively for the throngs of people expected. The number attending is variously estimated at between 5,000 and 10,000 people. Col Jack Venable and Will Sedberry figured there were 1200 cars on each side of the bridge with four people in each car. Others remarked on the fact that the mammoth bridge doubtless held more weight Monday afternoon than it will ever be called upon to hold again. This vast gathering assembled from every town in Scott, Pike, Calhoun, and surrounding counties in spite of heavy overhanging clouds which had discharged in steady downpour the previous night and which continually threatened a deluge all afternoon.
Also attending the dedication was Harry Alton, assistant and later engineer of the bridge’s construction. He alone of the many men employed on the Florence Bridge was never replaced in spite of administration changes and the several construction company changes. Mr Alton was only 23 years old when this important work was entrusted to him and had graduated only a short time before from the South Dakota Normal School of Civil Engineering. He was accompanied Monday by his wife and daughter Barbara.
The State Hospital Band of 35 pieces in their bright uniforms was supplemented by the excellent band from the Illinois School for the Deaf. Barry sent its fine high school band as well as a large delegation of citizens. The crowds were roped off in three sections from the lift span near which was the speakers stand.
The only sentimental touch of the afternoon’s program was the opening number by C J Lorch’s beautiful cornet solo “Illinois”. The loved melody thrilled every heart as the clear tones carried far down “the most beautiful river in the state”.
Director H H Cleaveland’s address followed. Appropriately enough he began with the Biblical quotation “Hope long deferred maketh the heart sick” but he did not complete it with the ending which was surely as appropriate “but when the desire cometh, it is the bread of life”. Mr Cleavland told of the various hardships which had caused delays, some of which were physical, such as inadequate equipment, unsatisfactory supervision and direction, and others which were natural ---or unnatural---as in the case of the numerous floods. “3180 feet from the west abutment to the east end of the east approach,” said he, “this the longest continuous structure built by the division of highways. A total of 2600 tons of steel was used which if converted into No 11 wire, would reach around the earth at the Equator. And if all the materials used in the bridge were loaded into freight cars at one time it would make a train approximately five miles long.” He gave other specifications and reviewed the history of the bridge. At the conclusion of his address he introduced Governor Emmerson. When the governor had finished speaking he cut the red white and blue ribbon and formally opened the bridge.
IL-106 Florence Bridge could be open again by Spring 2013.
The Illinois Department of Transportation has announced a tentative timeframe for when the Florence Bridge will be re-opened to traffic.
After receiving an engineering report and weighing its options, the department decided to make repairs to the bridge — which carries Ill. 100 and Ill. 106 over the Illinois River — and expects it could be open by spring.
Roger Driskell, IDOT deputy director and Region 4 engineer, said the department was focused on improvements that would allow the bridge to last longer into the future once it reopens.
“I’m sure it’s not as fast as people would like, but the extent of the repairs that need to be done, it’s not just like a part that can be replaced,” Driskell said. “With a lift bridge such as this, we want to make sure we get everything right.”
The bridge was closed June 28 because the lift mechanism at the top of a support column had moved laterally, impacting the support column and other critical elements, according to transportation officials.
To make repairs, contractors will use a barge-mounted crane to support the bridge as the sheave wheels that support the lift span are removed.
The damaged structural column will then be removed and a newly designed replacement column will be installed. New bearings also will be installed when the sheave wheels and axle shafts are replaced at the top of the towers.
The project is expected to begin this winter, meaning severe weather could delay completion.
“That’ll be the big factor,” Driskell said. “We anticipate needing a barge in the river. If the river freezes up, the barge can’t be moved.”
Driskell said engineers are still finalizing design details. The project should be ready to bid out sometime in November.
An average of 1,300 vehicles used the bridge each day; motorists have to detour to Interstate 72 while the bridge is closed.
The issue with the closure is that you have to drive to the Pittsfield Exit on I 72 which makes it a 20 mile detour to get to the other side of the bridge.
Here's a local news video about the IL-106 bridge closure. Local residents aren't happy about the closing of the Florence Illinois River bridge, even though Pike county is very rural and the I-72 bridge is only 4 miles upstream.
IDOT has closed the Florence bridge yet again, this time for 9 months.
The Florence Bridge, which carries Ill. 100 and Ill. 106 over the Illinois River, is expected to be closed for at least the next nine months.
Motorists are being encouraged to use a marked detour route to Interstate 72.
The bridge was closed June 28 because of structural issues found during a routine inspection. As a safety precaution to motorists and barge traffic on the Illinois River, the bridge was closed indefinitely until a further analysis could be completed.
The Illinois Department of Transportation monitored the lift mechanism of the bridge. During a recent bridge inspection, buckling of a primary support column for the lift portion was discovered. The lift mechanism at the top of a primary support column had moved laterally, impacting the support column and other critical elements, according to transportation officials.
Continued operation of the lift span of the bridge would have caused extensive additional damage to the support column. The bridge was also placed in the fully raised position to maintain barge traffic on the Illinois River.
The Illinois Department of Transportation contracted with the consulting firm of Modjeski and Masters. On July 3, an additional inspection confirmed the bridge must remain closed to traffic to avoid further structural damage.
Modjeski and Masters is investigating the support column buckling and cause of movement regarding the lift mechanism and will continue to work with the Illinois Department of Transportation regarding feasibility and time frame needed to repair the bridge, transportaion officials said.
An average of 1,300 vehicles use the bridge each day.
In the late 1920's and on into the 1930's the state built four Strauss Vertical lift bridges across the Illinois River. Only two--Florence and the Joe Page Bridge at Hardin are still in service. Shippingsport at La Salle and the bridge at Pekin have been replaced. A gasoline engine provided the power to raise the bridge. In later years they converted to electric motors but still used a gasoline engine as a backup source of power. The photos were taken by Art Kistler from IDOT--the photo of the ferry is from 1925; the bridge photos are from 1930.