Water will rise for Riverfest, despite Lincoln Street Bridge construction

Paddleboats, Jet Skis, canoes and kayaks.

All will have plenty of water for their events at next month’s Wichita River Festival. The new dam for the reconstructed Lincoln Street Bridge will be ready in plenty of time to raise the Arkansas River’s level before the festival starts June 1, city interim engineer Gary Janzen said Thursday.

All four gates have been installed and work is being completed on the dam’s operational components, he said. The gates are expected to be raised Wednesday.

“It will take about three days for the river to come back up to normal static pool,” Janzen said.

After the Riverfest ends June 9, the water level will be lowered again until work on the bridge is completed. The bridge could be done in September, but the overall project won’t be finished until the end of 2012, Janzen said.

“It’s coming together,” he said. “Once we get up out of the river, even if it rains, we can still work.”

The bridge, south of downtown, has been closed since the $15 million project began last June. The cost has gone up about $1.3 million since bids originally went out because of increased steel and fuel prices, Janzen said.

At the same time, the city has been able to obtain more grants for the project than expected. Federal grants for the bridge total about $4.5 million. Numerous sources, including the Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks, have provided $1 million in grants for a boat and fish path.

On the bridge work, Janzen said all of the structural steel is in place and the substructure work is almost completed. It’s almost time to begin putting on the bridge’s driving surface.

The bridge that is being redone was built in 1970 with a rubber dam underneath. By 1976, the rubber dam had failed, and the city replaced it with a concrete dam.

Because the dam is connected to the bridge, it added stress that caused premature damage, city officials have said. By separating the two, the city hopes to get a 60-year life out of each, though the bridge will probably need maintenance in 30 to 40 years.

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