Shell Rock frustrated by bridge construction delays - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Shell Rock frustrated by bridge construction delays

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SHELL ROCK (KWWL) -

Residents of one Butler County community are growing impatient with an ongoing construction project.  The Cherry Street bridge through the middle of Shell Rock has been closed since April, which has literally split the town in half.  Construction was expected to be finished by now, but the completion date's being pushed back.

So why the delays?  Even though 2011 has been fairly dry, a few rainy days over the summer and fall have slowed construction down on the bridge.  So rather than opening last month, it looks like the bridge won't be open to drivers and pedestrians until closer to Thanksgiving.  And the opening can't come soon enough for area residents and business owners.

"Everybody in town has had a problem.  The detour isn't that long.  It's just kind of an inconvenience," said Mike Klinefelter.

Klinefelter owns Klinc's Bar & Grill in downtown Shell Rock.  For six months now, he's been staring at orange detour signs, which re-route traffic 2.5 miles around the city in both directions.  The tough economy combines with construction splitting the town in two have pushed business profits way down.

"I could probably speak for most the owners.  We're probably down 40-45 percent compared last year to this year," said Klinefelter.

The city says some rain days have slowed construction.  And now, crews are waiting for the final side railing pieces to arrive and be installed.  The bridge will then have to be inspected.  So even with cement poured, the city can't allow any travel on the bridge until it's completely done.

"No traffic or no people on the bridge--they're going to strictly enforce that due to liability reasons and safety," said Donald Bonzer, Shell Rock City Council member.

Even still, Bonzer says the construction delays are frustrating to him and other city leaders.  So getting the project finally finished can't come soon enough.

The city is hopeful that the bridge railings will be installed soon and thinks residents will be impressed with the finished product.  With good weather, and maybe a little luck, the new bridge should be open by late November.

Most of the $2 million price tag for the bridge reconstruction is being covered by grant funding.  The city of Shell Rock is contributing about $500,000.

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