A World War II-era bridge on the Alaska Highway is nearing its last days.
The truss-style bridge over the Tok River has been replaced by a temporary detour bridge and will be permanently replaced with a new bridge by October 2019, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported .
The old bridge had exceeded its design life of 50 years, said Danielle Tessen, spokeswoman for the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities.
“The cost for inspection and maintenance would exceed the cost of a new bridge,” she said.
The old bridge is at Mile 1309 between Tok and the Canadian border. It was built between 1943 and 1944 and was the last truss-style bridge remaining between Canada and Anchorage.
Tessen suspects the federal Alaska Road Commission hired a contractor to build the bridge. DOT hired a historian to document it.
Crews began its demolition Oct. 26. Lead paint covers the bridge. Alaska has no facility to deal with that hazard, Tessen said, so scraps will be sent to the Lower 48 for abatement.
A detour was required so the new bridge could be built in the same location, keeping the road straight and reducing construction delays.
The new bridge will require foundation, piling and abutment work. It comes with a cost of $9.9 million and a projected 75-year life span. HC Contractors was awarded the contract.
The new overpass will eliminate height restrictions for oversize loads. The previous clearance was 15 feet, 8 inches (4.8 meters) because of trusses.
The bridge also will be bigger: 360 feet (110 meters) long and 43 feet (13 meters) wide, up from 250 feet (76.2 meters) long and 30 feet (9.1 meters) wide.