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The Murray Baker Bridge is almost ready

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We are just three months away from being able to cross the Illinois River on Interstate-74.

The Illinois Department of Transportation said the Murray Baker Bridge Project on I-74 is three things: on time, on budget, and safe.

In March the main artery for travelers closed and drivers were forced to adjust their daily routes.

"It's better for motorist and workers when you do a closure. You can do it one construction season instead of two or three," said Illinois Department of Transportation Spokesman, Paul Wappel.

While it won't look different when completed the work is keeping the bridge structurally sound.

"Yesterday we removed the last piece of the existing deck so all of the old deck is removed. We've made 18 of 23 of bridge deck pours. We have 5 more scheduled toward the end of this month," said Wappel.

Concrete walls and painting are also making significant progress.

For those who want a touch of nostalgia, the bridge will soon shine again.

"The lighting is getting installed now. It'll take take a little while to do that but that is underway. The bridge will look great and fantastic when the project is done," said Wappel.

Instead of one color, these lights are multi-colored and can be changed.

The contracted workers have had smooth sailing construction but have had to battle a few days of intense heat.

"Starting their day earlier to beat the heat as much as possible. They have water-coolers of course full of bottle watered that are iced down and stocked as needed," said Wappel.

They also faced the risk of COVID-19.

"Prescreening workers when they arrive on site. If anyone has any symptoms they are asked to go home or stay home," said Wappel.

IDOT said they're still sticking to it's $42 million budget and workers are moving at a good pace.

They add drivers will be ready to roll across the bridge Nov. 1.

Alex Menke

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