CHICAGO (CBS) — The closure of a bridge in Millington, Illinois, is more than an inconvenience for people in the river town. Those who live and work there say it’s costing them big, and when it will be fixed is still anybody’s guess.
The lone bridge stands desolate over the Fox River. It’s been that way for almost two years, leaving the village of 665 people with a serious transportation issue.
“We have ambulances that need to go through here. There are school buses that need to go through here. There’s families that need to go through here that live right on the other side of the bridge,” said Kirsten Lincoln.
Lincoln manages the Last Chance Bar, a Millington staple. But 23 months of no bridge is hurting business.
“But it’s almost a tainted thing where because the bridge is out, they won’t come here,” she said.
The bridge connects the north and south parts of Millington and Kendall and LaSalle counties. It was closed in 2017 because of scouring. Its 100-year-old supports need replacing. D Construction got the $1.5 million job in 2018. Work started, but then nothing. People have to drive an extra 14 miles now just to cross the river.
“If I could do that math I can’t even imagine how much extra fuel I’m spending in my pickup truck,” said Jeff Babbitt, who takes the 15-minute one-way detour to get his son to daycare.
“This will be our third season now we’re going to have to go around,” said Robert Toftoy.
Toftoy said the closure is also a strain on local farmers like him who are now forced to drive large slow equipment on big state roads for a much longer distance.
“That and the safety issue with equipment and just the time it takes to get there, you know?” he said. “You can have a lot planted in another half hour.”
Repairing the bridge is a joint Kendall County and LaSalle County project. Kendall County board member Matthew Prochaska said first LaSalle County needed federal funding. Then D Construction had issues getting structural steel. Than it rained a lot, raising river levels too high to legally work on the bridge, which was supposed to be finished last fall.
“It’s very frustrating,” said Babbitt.
Adding to frustrations, a crane that was just at the bridge Tuesday is also gone.
“There’s other bridges in Illinois that through all of this with high water have been worked on, so why not this bridge?” asked Lincoln.
Prochaska believes the earliest the bridge would open is September — a full year after it was supposed to have initially been finished. That’s the best case scenario.
No one from LaSalle County or D Construction returned calls for comment.