US 54 bridge close to completion
September 2, 2020
LOGAN - Construction on the new U.S. 54 bridge over the Canadian River stands at 90% complete, with a projected opening to traffic this month or October.
New roads were being built to the bridge last week, and the concrete span itself appeared to be largely finished.
Travis Martinez, public information officer for District 4 of the New Mexico Department of Transportation, said during a phone interview Thursday the project was 90% finished. Because of minor change orders in the contract and weather conditions that extended the completion date from August, he said the bridge would open sometime this fall.
Martinez said rain can delay paving and placing of concrete, and high winds can delay the uses of cranes and concrete pump trucks.
The project's official start date was Nov. 3, 2018, with a projected construction time of 500 days.
Martinez said the COVID-19 pandemic didn't affect the project. .
"COVID-19 did not play any major role in this project as both the contractor and The Department quickly addressed the needs of safety brought upon by the pandemic," he wrote in an email Friday.
The 700-foot-long bridge originally was forecast to cost about $20.3 million. Martinez said the price now is slated at $22.43 million.
"The difference and reasoning for the increase in the contract is due mainly on a re-design on piers due to the discovery of a brine aquifer (high salt solution)," Martinez stated. "To work around this aquifer engineers had to shorten the height of the piers; this takes time as engineers must verify proper design of concrete and reinforcing steel for the foundation and pier columns. There was also a French drain that had to be placed in the roadway as underlying material was discovered to be to saturated. A French drain was placed to bridge underlining material and sub-base prior to placement of hot mix asphalt."
Fisher Sand & Gravel of Placitas is the general contractor for the Canadian River Bridge.
NMDOT originally announced the bridge project in December 2013. Construction was slated for 2017 and 2018, but initial bids came in too high for the job, forcing the agency to announce a rebid on the project.
The new bridge over the Canadian River gorge is situated east of the current bridge, built in 1954.
The old span was rehabilitated in 1984. Its overall condition was rated as "poor" during its last inspection in September 2018.
According to NMDOT data from 2017, the latest information available, U.S. 54 averaged between 3,000 and 8,000 vehicles a day from Tucumcari to Nara Visa.