FAIRMONT - The new and improved Lair Road bridge is about 90 percent complete, but the toughest part of the project - at least from the public's viewpoint - is yet to come.
Greg Mitchell of engineering firm Bolton & Menk gave a project update to the City Council on Monday.
Lair Road will close April 2 and remain closed until June 28, the project's due date. Contractors had previously announced the road closure would happen on Feb. 25, but then postponed it. Also closing around mid-May will be the intersection of Lair Road and Shoreacres Drive. Again, the intersection will not open until June 28.
The street work will limit access to the Channel Inn, which is located at the intersection. When the project is complete, the establishment will have a new parking lot and landscaping, courtesy of the city.
Work on the bridge has been slowed by the cold weather, Mitchell said, but construction is still on schedule. Remaining details include adding a railing, street lights and a sidewalk under the bridge, plus surface treatment and painting.
The project includes much more than the bridge. Lair Road itself will be altered to make a gentle arc that will start just west of the Shoreacres intersection. The alterations to the road are to accommodate the new bridge, which is situated just north of the existing bridge, which has yet to be demolished.
Due to the improved design of the bridge, there will be no stop signs on it, as traffic is currently accustomed to. Instead, the intersection of Lair and Shoreacres will have a three-way stop.
The channel that runs under the bridge also has seen considerable improvements. The width of the waterway between Budd and Hall lakes has been doubled, now spanning about 40 feet, enough to allow two boats to pass. The channel is deeper too, with a consistent depth of 5 feet. The passage will have gabion walls on each side, which will in essence square off the channel, making it safer for boat traffic.
On Monday, the City Council approved a change order of $129,000 to repair the existing gabion wall on the west side of the channel. Problems with the wall were noticed when the water flow was blocked in order to construct the gabion wall on the east side of the channel. The money will come from the city's lake restoration funds. Utility customers are charged a nominal monthly fee for lake restoration, which has added up to $1.3 million. About $750,000 from the fund is already going into the improvements to the Lair Road channel and the channel that runs under Woodland Avenue.
Mitchell anticipates the Lair Road channel will be completed by May 10, in time for the fishing opener.