Crews begin demolition of University Ave. Bridge

Published: Jan. 11, 2021 at 4:12 PM AKST
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - Construction crews working on the University Avenue Bridge replacement began tearing down the old bridge last week. The crews finished the temporary work and construction bridges a few weeks prior, ensuring that workers and pedestrians are able to cross the river while the bridge is out.

Danielle Tessen is a Publications Specialist for the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT) and said that while they are working on removing the bridge, people may see debris on the river ice but that it will all be cleaned up.

“We have a lot of things in place stopping those materials from falling into the water. The materials that you do see that are on top of the ice are not going to be there by the end of this project.”

Tessen said that an excavator will remove most of the debris and then divers will sweep the bottom of the river to ensure that there is no debris left in the water by the end of the project.

Tessen also stressed that because of demolition, there is no longer any way to cross the bridge, “You cannot drive across the old bridge, you cannot walk across the old bridge. We are demolishing it and so we want to encourage folks to use that pedestrian bridge.

After they finish removing the deck, utilities and girders from the bridge, they will take out the piles from the river. Later this month divers will also be in the river to ensure that the piles are completely removed and flush with the river bottom.

The river crossing on University Ave. is undergoing a more than year-long rebuild as DOT continues to do improvements on University Ave. Work on the existing bridge began at the end of last summer and the new bridge isn’t scheduled to open until Oct. of this year.

During this time Tessen also stressed that anyone using the river for transportation - whether by snow machine, walking in the winter or boating in the summer - should be aware and cautious as the area may be changing due to new piles being driven or debris temporarily on the ice. More information on the status of the project and any work that may affect the river under the bridge can be found at the DOT’s Alaska Navigator site.

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