Opening ceremonies for Willard Bridge set for noon Aug. 28

Shawnee County recently posted this photo on its website of the Willard Bridge, which will open Aug. 28. (Photo courtesy of Shawnee County)

Opening ceremonies for the Willard Bridge will be at noon Monday, Aug. 28, Shawnee County public works director Tom Vlach said Thursday to County Commissioners Shelly Buhler, Bob Archer and Kevin Cook.


Vlach indicated at the commission’s morning meeting that completion was nearing for the replacement bridge being built just east of the previous structure, which was closed in June.

The replacement bridge and its predecessor both stand almost 3 miles north of Interstate 70 on N.W. Carlson Road, the boundary between Shawnee and Wabaunsee counties. The bridge being replaced was built in 1955 and widened in 1983.

The former bridge will be imploded and scrapped, mostly likely in September or October, Vlach told The Topeka Capital-Journal on Thursday afternoon.

“When it does occur, the new bridge will have to be closed for a short period during the actual implosion,” he said.

Public concern about its condition rose in 2009, when the commission approved a list of priority transportation needs that said if one of the bridge’s eight steel pins failed, it would collapse without warning.

Work to build the replacement bridge began in January 2016.

The replacement bridge is roughly the same length as its predecessor, which is about 2,300 feet. It has been constructed at a lower elevation than the current one.

The replacement bridge is about 13 feet lower than the current bridge on its north end, about 5 feet lower toward the middle of the river and essentially the same height as the current bridge at the location above the railroad tracks on its south end, Vlach told The Capital-Journal earlier this year.

Contact reporter Tim Hrenchir at (785) 295-1184 or @timhrenchir on Twitter.