A large road construction project on the east side of Sioux Falls is getting underway, not with the roar of jackhammers, but the buzz of giant diamond-tipped saws.
Traffic on 26th Street is down to two-lanes because of the project that will raise the road over the railroad tracks near Southeastern Avenue. Crews have started tearing-down the 26th Street bridge over the Big SIoux River, using saws. Half of the bridge will be cut away, while traffic on the other half will still be moving over the bridge.
Road construction has taken a sharp turn with the spinning of concrete-cutting saws along the bridge over the Big Sioux.
“It’s pretty impressive what they can do these days with saw blades and what you can cut, Principle Engineer Josh Peterson said.
The saws cut through two to four inches at each pass because carving any deeper into the concrete will cause the blades to warp. A steady stream of water keeps the blades cool.
“And it also flushes out the concrete chunks too that things don’t get so gummed-up,“ Peterson said.
Engineers say the steel girders and concrete piers underneath will more than support traffic when half the bridge is gone.
“A girder bridge like this, it’s a lot more feasible to do this than some other types of bridges, so we’re more than confident that there will be no issues,“ Peterson said.
It will be up to drivers to get used to traveling on half a bridge.
“You just gotta watch what you’re doing. Pay attention,“ Hendrene Van Wyh of Hills, MN said.
A saw has already cut through this barrier curb and once the saw completes carving out this section, the concrete slab will be picked up by a backhoe and hauled away.
The city expects the southern half of the bridge to be torn down in the coming weeks and completely rebuilt by fall. Then the two-way traffic will move onto that half of the bridge while the northern side is torn down and rebuilt.