AVON – The Village and engineers with the Livonia Avon and Lakeville Railroad (LA+L) are laying plans to completely replace the ancient wrought-iron railroad bridge that currently spans Spring Street.
Tom McTighe, engineer for the LA+L, says that the bridge was originally built in 1887 in Pennsylvania, and though it has endured the ages and still supports trains, it is getting long in the tooth and needs to be replaced in anticipation of bigger modern train cars.
“The bridge was made in Pennsylvania of wrought iron, in 1887, which is not the same as steel and doesn’t have the same properties as steel, especially modern steel,” said McTighe. “Everyone’s thinking like truckers, ‘how can we ship cheaper?’ They’re making the containers bigger, from 50 tons to 250,000 pounds per car. On the horizon is 315,000 pounds. When we talk about bridge structure and car loads, you have to build ahead.”
McTighe said that reconstruction is an opportunity to improve drainage and flood plans in the area, which was hit hard in the floods on Mothers Day 2015. Spring Street was the epicenter of severe road upheaval due to rapidly flowing floodwaters.
“We’re sensitive and I know you are with these flood events,” said McTighe. “Both sides of the bridge will have drainage, some will be stone boxes, and we will make sure they work properly. South of Spring Street we’re going to armor with surge stone, and make sure the ditches are clear.”
Traffic will be restricted during construction, and at some points traffic will have to be closed completely.
“For planning purposes, we’ll say we have to close traffic for three weeks,” said McTighe. “But we’d like to do lane closures for a couple months. There are three lanes, so for most of construction two will be open.”
Mayor Thomas Freeman said that this is an opportunity not only to improve the structure of the bridge but the wall and sidewalk conditions as well.
“We’ll lobby that we’ve taken on this wall that was once part of Rte. 39 that regularly gets graffitied,” said Mayor Freeman. “Would it be at all possible for you to put a new face on the wall? We’d be remiss not to ask.”
McTighe said that the plans are still being developed and that this is a possibility.