South Westchester Lagoon Bridge reopens ahead of schedule

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — Reopened ahead of schedule, the South Westchester Lagoon bridge has a new look.

Closed temporarily in the fall, crews needed to do some major renovations. Construction teams wrapped up work on the bridge in late December and it seems a drop in temperatures last month helped the contractors.

"One of the reasons we had success is the contractor's original plan was to use ice as they access the new structure," senior Park Planner Maeve Nevins-Lavtar said.

Five years ago, a study was conducted on the Coastal Trails when the north bridge fell after a truck hauling a wood chipper crossed it.

Parks and Recreation says of the bridges determined to need repairs, the south bridge — around 300 feet long — is the most difficult and expensive, but it was able to reuse some of the old bridge pieces deemed safe.

"We didn't know if we would be able to reuse the existing pilings but it turned out we were able to reuse them," Nevins-Lavtar said. "Had we not, we would have had to weld pieces onto them to extend them and it worked out wonderfully to be able to reuse those and not have to make any revisions and it was also a cost savings."

Minor elements such as asphalt finishing will need to be completed in the spring. The upgrades are expected to prolong the life of the bridge up to 100 years.

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