UPDATE | Butt Memorial bridge set to open temporarily this Friday

Published: Mar. 16, 2017 at 11:19 AM EDT
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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The Butt Memorial Bridge is set to open temporarily Friday.

This is according to Interim Traffic Engineering Manager Ron Lampkin. He says road markings were scheduled to be put on the road Wednesday.

News 12 NBC 26 / Thursday, March 16, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- The cold weather is affecting some local construction projects.

The good news is crews have been way ahead of schedule on fixing the Butt Memorial Bridge. It should open soon if these freezing temperatures don't slow them down.

Lampkin says they plan to open the bridge the Monday before Masters week, March 27th. They will keep it open for all the Masters traffic.

From a bird's eye view it's easy to see all the work that's been done to the bridge known for the soaring eagle statues that sit atop it, but if you come in a little closer, you'll see there's still work that needs to be done. The historic lions and eagles that guard the bridge were just about to get some love when the cold snap rolled in.

A big green lift is in position and on standby as soon as the temperature is right to give the lions a little color and the eagles a little shine.

"The weather's kind of holding up the painting now because it has to be above 50° degrees to paint," Traffic Engineering Manager Ron Lampkin said.

The cold affects a few jobs out at the historic bridge.

"I think it's 40° for concrete, 45° for asphalt, and then 50° for paint," Lampkin said.

That means work can't even start until it hits that degree. So workers are doing what they can to keep the momentum going. Bundled up in hats and gloves, they stack bricks and piece them together in the median. Luckily, most of the concrete and asphalt was already poured, like the pervious sidewalk that runs down the hill and actually soaks up any water that hits it to prevent slipping.

Lampkin says they had to let that sit about 48 hours to harden, so they got it in right before the cold snap.

News 12 NBC 26 was there when the temperature hit exactly 40° and the concrete truck rolled in, allowing them to finish part of the sidewalk. Despite the cold, they're so ahead of schedule, Lampkin says they plan to open a week before the Masters. Drivers are thrilled.

"Oh, Lord! I'm going to be so excited. I'll tell ya, instead of going around our elbow to get to our butt, I mean goodness gracious," driver James Waites said.

Now crews are working on the finishing touches like taking the forms off the sidewalks and fitting all the brick until it closes again after the Masters to finish it for good.

"OK, so they're just teasing us for a little while, and then we're going to get real confused again," Waites laughed.

Lampkin says they plan to open the bridge March 27th to give it a week to make sure everything is in place. But, it's just a temporary opening.

After Masters week they'll close the bridge again just long enough to install all the street lights and the flashers that tell drivers when there's a red light on the other side of the bridge.

News 12 NBC 26 / February 3, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Two months away from the Masters and construction projects are feeling the heat.

Crews are trying to get as much as they can done before they have to press pause.

So far one of the biggest projects is still ahead of schedule. Today, it's all about the sidewalks workers smoothing and scraping while the stately eagles and lions of the Butt Memorial Bridge keep watch.

"We are about a week ahead of schedule at this point," Traffic Engineering Manager Ron Lampkin said.

Lampkin is checking things off one by one trying to make sure the list of things to do is smaller than the number of work days before April.

"This concrete that we have is our approach slab that we poured this week and then if you see right ahead where that line is, that's our bridge deck. That has been poured a while," Lampkin said.

They'll start work on the other side next Monday and Tuesday. By the 15th, they'll bring in the asphalt to meet it and pour the sidewalks that have already been trenched out.

"We are doing the Broad Street bridge next to the Kroc Center as well. They'll be doing both of them at the same time so they're working hand-in-hand to get both of them done and opened up for Masters week," Lampkin said.

Everything will be put on hold for Masters including Georgia DOT projects, but you can't just stall bridge construction. You have to make it safe.

"So basically you have to be done with the bridge to put cars on it," Lampkin said.

They plan to leave only the cosmetic stuff like painting and refurbishing the iconic animals and wiring for the street lights for after Masters week. With water back int he canal, the finishing touches will be done from a barge.