This is a reply from David Rutkowski, Assistant Manager from Presque Isle State Park, to an email I sent to him the other day concerning reconstruction of the Singing Bridge at Presque Isle State Park.
We, also, would like to see the bridge project started December 1 and finished by December 31. However, something like that is not possible.
First, the prime tourist time is also the prime construction time. While it is possible to construct bridges during the cold winter months, it is also better to construct during the summer. There are curing times necessary for the concrete to pass the strength tests, and concrete without the additives necessary to cure in cold weather makes a stronger structure. The curing time is also the reason why the project takes so much longer than seems necessary. Each component of concrete must cure for a certain number of days before the next component begins. That extends the time necessary for construction. Also, the old structure has to be demolished and removed, the access ramps re-worked, guard rails installed, etc. The process is a lot more involved than what it seems to a layman.. The project involves demolition of old and construction of new abutments, sidewalk, parapets, wingwalls, reinforced concrete deck, paving, landscaping, etc. Believe me, contractors want to do a job as fast as they can, but they also have to meet specifications and standards that ensure a quality construction. That takes time.
Another factor to the timing is the release of the funds. The design for the bridges was completed in 2002. We were waiting for the release of the funds for construction. When the funds are released, we begin the bidding process, followed by construction. The timing of the release was such that the work would start in April. We could have chosen to delay the start until after Labor Day. However, there are several problems associated with that. Such a delay would move the project into the cold-weather period. Any weather delays would have pushed the completion back, and could have impacted late spring-early summer traffic in 2007. Also, inflation would have increased the cost of the project if it were delayed. In addition, the bridge was down-graded from a 14 ton limit to a 3 ton limit last fall. Any further delays would have meant further deterioration to the existing structure, and would have risked a bridge failure if a large bus, delivery truck, or motorhome ignored the posted limit and collapsed the bridge. We could not take that chance.
So, bottom line is we at the park would prefer a different timetable, but we have what we have, and we will deal with it. I hate to use the old cliche, "Temporary inconvenience -- Permanent Improvement", but it is true in this case.
Assistant Park Manager
Presque Isle State Park
(814) 833-2945 FAX (814) 833-0266