Phase I of the City’s routine maintenance improvements to the Liberty Bridge was conducted over the course of several weeks in February, and Phase II is scheduled to begin this summer. The City has hired Astron General Contracting Company to clean and paint the bridge’s structural steel components and remove and replace grommets. The City has also retained WSP USA, the engineering firm that performs inspections of the bridge, to monitor the work and ensure that Astron is taking all of the precautions required to avoid any negative impact to the environment. This will be the first time the Liberty Bridge has been painted since its construction. In addition to preserving its aesthetic, removing the old paint and applying a new coat is essential to preventing rust, which could lead to structural issues down the road.
According to Mari Steinbach, director of the City’s Parks & Recreation Department, maintaining the bridge’s structural integrity and ensuring the public’s safety are the City’s highest priorities, but City staff is sensitive to the fact that the bridge is the centerpiece of downtown and its most popular destination. “While the vibrancy of downtown is part of what makes Greenville so special, it also makes it challenging to find opportunities to perform the work required to maintain the City’s high standards,” said Steinbach. “We scheduled this work for the summer months because the paint will adhere to the structure better when applied in warm temperatures, and we chose the particular timeframe to avoid the popular July 4th and Labor Day holidays.”
The goal is to have all of the work completed in 48 days and City staff has worked closely with Astron to devise a construction schedule and strategy that will allow them to complete the necessary maintenance activities in the shortest amount of time, and in a way that will limit the amount of time that the bridge must be closed to the public. Astron will perform the required maintenance in two stages, postponing any work that will require closing the bridge until later in the summer. To meet the deadline, Astron will be working during daytime and evening hours.
Stage 1: 30 days
Originally scheduled to begin July 5, the start date for Stage 1 has been postponed to July 23. This stage will focus on the bridge’s towers and exterior areas. Since the Shakespeare Festival will be held in Falls Park on Thursday through Sunday evenings from July 10 to August 3, Astron will complete any work involving excessive noise before the festival begins.
Stage 2: 18 days
The second stage of work was originally scheduled to begin August 4; however, due to the delay in beginning Stage 1, a new start date for Stage 2 is TBD. This stage will focus on the bridge deck and surrounding areas, which will require Astron to remove the bridge’s safety rails and replace the grommets where the suspension cables pass through. As a result, the bridge will be closed to the public during this stage.
“We understand the impact that closing the bridge may have and are providing advance notice to allow our downtown stakeholders time to plan and prepare,” said Steinbach. “We are committed to doing everything we can to facilitate completion of the work and a senior staff member will serve as the project manager to ensure that the contractor adheres to the construction schedule and to address any issues that may arise during the course of the project.”