FLORENCE — A major phase in building a new bridge on Lauderdale 16 has been reached with design work completed and submitted to the Alabama Department of Transportation (ALDOT).

"We call this the 'plans-in-hand' stage," Lauderdale Engineer Eric Hill said. "At this point, ALDOT looks at it and double checks to make sure we've got everything structurally sound and everything looks good. They will review it and submit it back and we'll look at any comments."

That should take a couple of weeks, barring any unexpected issues, Hill said.

"After that, we'll go deeper and start on the right of way and utilities phases," he said. "That's when people start seeing things start. Until this point, we don't do a lot with the utilities and right of way because we have to make sure we know exactly where the bridge will be."

Officials closed the Lauderdale 16 bridge across Cypress Creek in July 2017 due to structural concerns. The bridge was built in 1935.

Hill believes construction on the bridge is on schedule to start next year, and it likely would take a year to complete.

The new bridge will be substantially longer than the old one. It will be some 550 feet long, Hill said. The old bridge is 170 feet long.

"The existing bridge is straight across and not nearly as long, but due to environmental and cultural resources it's going to be longer," he said. "That makes the cost substantially more, too. I would say probably $1 million more than originally anticipated."

He said the final cost could be in the range of $2 million to $2.5 million.

The bridge will be near the curve on Lauderdale 16 just north of the old bridge, Hill said. It will be 18 feet above the water.

The bridge is a Metropolitan Planning Organization project. Federal funds will pay 80 percent of the cost with the remaining 20 percent funded locally.

The bridge is well used, and Hill said he gets a lot of questions about it.

"We know it's an inconvenience and we hate the circumstances of how we had to close the bridge, but our design team has been doing a very good job and working hard on it," he said.

bernie.delinski@timesdaily.com or 256-740-5739. Twitter @TD_BDelinski

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