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      Florence bridge will probably open next spring after repairs are made

      After nearly three months of being closed due to structural defects, the Illinois Department of Transportation has released details on their plans to get the Florence bridge back open.

      IDOT recently met with the citizens advisory group from Pike and Scott counties and they are hopeful the bridge will re-open next spring.

      But the signs still say the same thing, "road closed."

      The bridge was closed earlier this summer after inspectors from the Illinois Department of Transportation found some problems with the lift span superstructure.

      "So we're going to have the fabrication contract that's going to recondition the wheels and fabricate new wire rope assemblies and new bearing assemblies to be put at the top of the towers. Not only are we accomplishing the short term goal of repairing the bridge and getting it back into service, we're also performing a longer term repair that will keep us going long into the future," Steve Beran, a bridge engineer with IDOT, said.

      IDOT also said they will try to update stakeholders as repair work is completed. They're hoping for for a mild winter because a majority of the work will be done from a barge parked next to the bridge. Cost of the repair work is in the neighborhood of nearly $200,000. All of that could start after contractors submit their bids and they're reviewed by the IDOT staff.

      "Once we get done with this repair, not only have we fixed the damaged column that currently exists at the top of the pier but we have also extended the life of the bridge by replacing critical mechanical components that we would have had to replace in the next couple of years anyway. So we have actually extended the life of the bridge by doing this repair," Beran said.