A contractor has been selected to remove the decorative steel truss on the Rockland Road bridge over the Des Plaines River in Libertyville, but it could be up to a month before cutting torches are put to work.
The bridge was closed Feb. 1, the day after an annual inspection showed the nearly 100-year-old truss was so deteriorated it presented a potential safety hazard for vehicles or pedestrians.
Village officials have been working quickly to address the matter and sought prices from contractors to remove and scrap the truss or remove and save it for possible re-use when the bridge is replaced in 2021 or 2022. In the interim, the village determined the truss couldn't be saved.
National Wrecking Co. of Chicago was the lowest of four bidders at $53,800 to remove and scrap the steel.
That contract was approved Tuesday by the village board. The cost will be split with the Libertyville Township Road District, which equally shares responsibility for the road and bridge with the village.
Village Administrator Chris Clark said the steel was completely deteriorated.
"It must come down -- you can't repair it," he said.
But there is red tape to untangle before that process can begin. The steel truss was built in 1921 as part of a longer span over a railroad bridge over the Kaskaskia River in downstate Vandalia.
It was decommissioned when a road leading to it was moved, and Libertyville acquired, moved and installed it on Rockland Road in 1962.
The village needs state approval to proceed, and the Illinois Department of Transporation asked that an "environmental survey request" be completed and submitted, Clark said.
One of the categories is historic status. While not designated a historic landmark or structure, the truss was considered as potentially eligible, so the information is being reviewed by the Illinois State Historic Preservation Office, Clark said.
"It appears on a database and it needs to be checked out. That's what's happening right now," he said. "They said don't take the truss down until it's done."
Clark said he was told the review could take up to a month but didn't expect it would be that long. Once that's settled, the truss will be removed, which could take two weeks.
Mayor Terry Weppler said state Rep. Nick Sauer and state Sen. Dan McConchie have been working with the village to expedite the process.
The bridge was rebuilt and widened in 1989.
The plan is to replace and raise the bridge structure, a $2.9 million project. Federal funding would pay 80 percent of that cost.
Plaques marking milestones have been removed from the bridge and will given to the local historical society.