The Millington Road bridge over the Fox River in Millington is closed until further notice due to public safety concerns.
Kendall County Engineer Fran Klaas said Monday that officials had discovered “a pretty good scour hole under the north pier” of the bridge during a routine bridge inspection a little while back. On Friday, an underwater bridge inspection was performed and “they found a disturbingly large scour hole under the north pier, and no piling (or columns) under the footing at all,” Klaas said.
Scour holes are places in a bridge’s substructure where moving water removes sediment from around the bridge’s foundation.
“That bridge was reconstructed in the 1950s and they put it on the existing substructure, so nobody really knew what that substructure was,” Klaas said. “I think everybody back then assumed it was on timber piling, but they didn’t find any evidence of that.”
Klaas said the county gave the information to the Illinois Department of Transportation, and IDOT told the county to “shut the bridge down immediately.”
“You can’t really argue with IDOT, and you really wouldn’t want to mess with public safety,” Klaas said. “You would never want to jeopardize public safety; that’s our number one job. So until we can get it fixed, the bridge is going to be closed.”
Klaas said IDOT officials “don’t even know yet what that fix will be.”
The bridge is a county bridge for a county highway, Klaas said, but the bridge’s north abutment is actually across the county line into LaSalle County, so Klaas said the cost of the repair or replacement will ultimately be shared by both counties.
Klaas said it appears it will be a long-term closure before the bridge is repaired.
“These things take time to figure out how to repair them, so it isn’t gonna open in a week or two,” he said. “We’ll be lucky to have it reopened by the end of the year.”
At Tuesday evening’s County Board meeting, Sheriff Dwight Baird asked residents not to move the barriers that have been set blocking access to the bridge. He said if someone moves the barriers and a motorist is injured or killed if the bridge collapses, that person could be held liable.
Klaas said that barriers had been anchored down to prevent movement as of Tuesday.