- Associated Press - Monday, December 7, 2015

PRESCOTT, Ariz. (AP) - A $14.4 million construction project to replace a historic bridge connecting Prescott to northern Arizona has used more than 70,000 pounds of explosives as crews tackle the rugged terrain.

Crews working to replace the Hell Canyon Bridge have used massive cranes, bulldozers and drill rigs to install the new bridge, The Prescott Daily Courier reports (http://bit.ly/1m6YjQT ).

“This project is unique because of what we had to build to access it,” Travis Legare, project manager for general contractor Ames Construction, Inc., said at an Arizona Department of Transportation media tour on Tuesday.

Legare said the steep canyon walls required construction of a series of temporary roads to the canyon floor. Constructing the access roads on the north and south sides of the canyon required excavation of tens of thousands of cubic yards of dirt and rock, much of which required blasting.

Legare said crews used about 70,200 pounds of ammonium nitrate explosives for the north and south access roads, and the north roadway approach.

ADOT told drivers in July what the blasting schedule would be, noting there would be regular closures ont eh highway during the blasts.

Between 5,000 and 6,000 vehicles cross the Hell Canyon Bridge daily, ADOT District Engineer Alvin Stump said. The ADOT is working to build a wider structure that will accommodate heavier commercial vehicles. The current bridge was built in 1954 and has shown signs of deterioration in recent years.

“Everyone’s excited to have the bridge complete,” Stump said. “(Without it) we were looking to have to continue the maintenance.”

Crews are currently working on columns and a new bridge surface for the new structure, and Legare said crews plan to switch traffic to the new bridge by early summer 2016. After traffic switches over, demolition of the old structure is scheduled to be complete by fall 2016.

Work is expected to be completed in early 2016.

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Information from: The Daily Courier, http://www.dcourier.com

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