KIRKLAND – The Hortense Street Bridge has reopened, ending the mile-long detour some Kirkland residents had to take for trips downtown and to schools for about two years.
The bridge west of the intersection of Hortense and Sixth streets cost about $800,000 to repair. The cost was split among federal, county and local funds with Kirkland picking up 20 percent of the cost, about $160,000.
Village President Les Bellah said that although the project exhausted the village’s motor fuel tax fund – leaving few resources for road maintenance in the coming months – the bridge will end the sense of isolation for residents in the southwest areas of town, such as the Colonial Estate subdivision.
“There is going to be a couple small road projects to wait for a year or so because we had to spend so much, but I think everyone is happy to have it back,” Bellah said.
The bridge was out of commission for so long largely because the structural problems were not anticipated, said Nathan Schwartz, DeKalb County engineer. The bridge was not a top priority on the county’s bridge maintenance list for federal funding, but he said he was able to move it up a year and prevent further delay in repairs.
When the bridge was installed decades ago, it did not include a waterproof membrane system to help keep water and salt away from the concrete deck beams. The lack of protection caused holes to form in the structure.
Schwartz said the project would never have been accomplished without the coordination between Kirkland, the Illinois Department of Transportation and his office.
“Because the failure was not anticipated, the funding was not set out ahead of time, so we really needed to work together,” Schwartz said. “That was a big part of the success.”
Once work did start, it only took about two and a half months to complete, Bellah said.
Not having the bridge available forced residents in the southwest part of Kirkland to head west on Hortense, then east on Route 72 to reach downtown.
With the bridge back, residents can now go east on Hortense and head north on village roads to get to the library, school and area businesses.