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Main Street bridge

Starting Friday at 9 a.m. the Main Street bridge in Downtown Racine will be closed for four months of painting and repairs. Public works officials said the work is needed to protect the steel structures on the bridge, which haven’t received a new coat of paint since construction on the lift bridge wrapped up in 1996./ Scott Anderson scott.anderson@journaltimes.com Buy this Photo at jtreprints.com

RACINE — If you thought detours were behind you, think again.

Starting Friday at 9 a.m., the Main Street bridge in Downtown Racine will be closed for four months for painting and repairs, public works officials at City Hall said Tuesday.

According to Public Works Commissioner Mark Yehlen the painting, which includes removing the existing paint, is needed to protect steel structures, which haven’t received a new coat of paint since construction of the lift bridge wrapped up in 1996.

“This is a little bit more than slapping some color it,” Yehlen said. “It is really for long-term maintenance of the bridge — the preservation of the steel structure.”

In addition to the metal lift bridge areas, the contractor will be repainting the bridge railings, Assistant Public Works Commissioner Tom Eeg said.

There will also be some work to fix minor corrosion or cracks on the bottom and top of the bridge deck.

Only the portion of Main Street that is part of the bridge will be closed and detour signs are slated to be in place on Friday, Yehlen said. Through traffic will be routed along Hamilton Street, Douglas Avenue, and State Street, according a press release issued by the department. Locals who work, live and shop in areas around the bridge can feel free to come up with other detours, however.

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The bridge is slated to reopen at 5 p.m. on March 29.

Yehlen said Tuesday that the work needs to occur during the winter because that is when boat traffic is the lowest. Contractors will be able to open the bridge for boats, but the expectation is that they won’t have to do it often.

“We can’t really do it in the summer — the (lift bridges) can open three times an hour (during) the navigation season,”

The entire project, including professional oversight, is expected to cost roughly $1 million and will be paid for by the state, Yehlen said. Contractors will be conducting their work, which includes sandblasting, within a heated enclosure, he said.

The City Council voted on Nov. 7 to award the contract for the work to Drax Inc. of Madison for $938,000. On Nov. 20 the council voted to contract with the firm that designed the project — Ayres Associates Inc. — for oversight. The firm will be paid a not-to-exceed amount of $109,100, which will also be covered by the state, Eeg said.

The project is part of the city’s long-term capital improvement schedule for several years, Eeg said.

The State Street lift bridge was closed for three months between Oct. 25, 2010, and Jan. 24, 2011, for welding work and painting.

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Cara Spoto covers the school beat for The Journal Times.

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