DANVILLE — DANVILLE — When Medix Ambulance president and chief executive officer Steve Sparrow was reminded that it’s just nine months until the expected opening of the new Fairchild Overpass, he could hardly contain his enthusiasm.
“We will be thrilled,” Sparrow said.
He said the time still “feels like forever” like it did when the city closed the Fairchild Subway in 2011.
He said the opening can’t come soon enough.
Sparrow also said it’s funny with this roadway being closed for as long as it has been.
Normally road closures are maybe for a few days and ambulance drivers make brief, temporary adjustments to their driving routes.
“This has just been huge ...,” Sparrow said of the long-term detour.
He said some of the rookies, the new ambulance drivers, will have to be re-trained once the new overpass opens.
Sparrow said they’re not used to driving on that part of Fairchild Street.
“We’re anxiously waiting (for it to reopen),” Sparrow said. “We just can’t wait.”
He added the ambulance service hasn’t had any major problems since the subway closure and the fire department also is on the other side to help with any life-threatening emergencies.
“It’s been going smooth,” Sparrow said.
Sparrow added that growing up in that area, he’s a little nostalgic for the subway, but the new overpass is going to be nice.
The ramps and walls for the overpass have taken shape for the project that remains on schedule for a May 2014 completion.
The deteriorated Fairchild Subway was filled in and is being replaced with an overpass between Rogers Street and Bowman Avenue.
The new 1,200-foot long structure includes two bridges, over railroad tracks and roadway, and retaining walls.
O’Neil Brothers had been removing temporary sheet pile and forming the pier cap. Structural steel also will be set to go over the railroad tracks this month.
Due to concerns about work interfering with the continuous run of trains, work near the tracks stops each time a train goes by and then continues again.
Storm sewer and Bowman Avenue work also continues. Work on the concrete deck will occur this winter.
“We’re making great progress,” said David Schnelle, urban services director with the city.
The intersection work at Bowman and Fairchild — widening and adding turn lanes to accommodate trucks and increased traffic — is expected to be done before winter, by the end of November, Schnelle said.
He added, however, that the final asphalt will occur next spring.
The almost 100-year-old Fairchild Subway is being replaced with a new bridge taking Fairchild Street over the Norfolk Southern and CSX railroad tracks.
The subway has been closed since April 2011 due to safety concerns with the subway walls.
The project was funded with $3 million from the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, $12 million from the Illinois Commerce Commission and $7 million from the Illinois Jobs Now program.
Weekly updates and a live video feed of the project can be found on the website http://www.danvillepublicworks.org/fairchild-overpass.html.
Whenever digging occurs for projects, one can never be sure what might be found underground.
An unknown old storm sewer made of brick was found with the Fairchild Overpass project, in addition to an old school foundation from the 1800s near the Danville Rescue Mission at Bowman Avenue and Fairchild Street, said Mitch Lankford, resident engineer with the city on the Fairchild Overpass project.
Those bricks are used for fill and other things, but the city saved the brick pavers found on the upper part of the Fairchild Subway. They are put with a brick stock pile that probationary crews help clean for re-use such as with city brick street repairs, Schnelle said.
Schnelle added of the old storm sewer line found, the city plans to re-route it and abandon it.
In another project with the downtown crosswalks, old rail line ties were found under Vermilion Street. That was expected, Schnelle said. The rail had been removed, but decaying ties were found and removed.
As for other city projects, Schnelle also gave updates on them:
n Downtown concrete and median work: median work will be finished in addition to the installation of stamped concrete sidewalks at Vermilion and Seminary and new handicapped ramps at each intersection. The concrete work should be done by Sept. 1.
In the immediate downtown area, the first two blocks of North Vermilion Street, gutters were repaired and new stamped concrete sidewalks were installed like at Hazel and North streets.
Vermilion Street is expected to be resurfaced, including parking areas, from Main Street to near Fairchild Street, after September, Schnelle said.
Intermittent closures and parking restrictions will be required. The resurfacing will take about three weeks he said, through the end of October, due to manhole adjustments, pavement markings, etc., Schnelle said.
n The Danville High School project is ongoing and a little behind schedule, Schnelle said.
The work should not be in the way of school activities, such as arrivals and dismissals, he added, about the new school year.
The reconstruction of the southern high school parking lot includes a green overflow parking area along Hazel Street that can be used as a practice field for the marching band or other activities when not needed for parking.
The project is using environmentally friendly pavements and landscaping to allow water to pass through them into a granular filter below that cleans the water before releasing it back to the storm sewer system.
n Medians were being finished near Presence United Samaritans Medical Center and Lakeview College of Nursing.
Construction on the shared-use path running along Logan Avenue and extending to the YMCA has been working around utility relocations and storm sewer work. The path should be completed by the end of October.
Design work for the DHS shared-use path also has started.
n Improvements to Maple and May streets, near Watchfire Signs are expected to be completed in the spring.
n The city’s seal coat program for streets started this month. Microsurfacing also is to start later this month or early in September.
n North Vermilion Street work to line up the drives for Lowe’s and Tractor Supply Co. and add turn lanes for the Meijer project is expected to occur later this month or in early September. The former Classy Critters building will be demolished.
n The South Griffin Street bridge replacement will start in late summer 2014 at the earliest.
“It will be a good year of construction,” Schnelle said.
n Bowman Avenue reconstruction from Winter Avenue south to Crestview Drive, at the traffic light at Holiday Hills, will start late summer 2014.
The roadway will be rebuilt and the shared-use path will be extended from Winter Avenue.