Mayor Chris Beutler today announced that the new Penny Bridges just west of 33rd Street and Sheridan Boulevard will open by Friday, December 18, more than two weeks ahead of schedule. The Rock Island Trail under the bridges is expected to reopen today.
To celebrate the opening, neighborhood residents are invited to gather 10:30 a.m. Saturday, December 19 on the small brick street just south of Sheridan at the west end of the bridges. After a short program, the new plaques on the bridges will be unveiled and members of the Cornhusker Model A Club will parade their cars across the bridges. Refreshments will be provided by Alfred Benesch and Company, which led the engineering efforts for the project.
The project to replace the historic bridges has closed a section of Sheridan Boulevard as well as a portion of the trail since May. The side-by-side Penny Bridges were built in 1934 to carry Sheridan Boulevard traffic over the railroad, which is now the trail. They were built on both sides of a wooden trestle, which carried streetcar tracks over the railroad. The bridges got their name because the streetcar fare increased a penny if you rode past the trestle.
"I want to thank drivers, trail users and neighborhood residents for their patience during construction," Mayor Beutler said. "The success of this project also relied a great deal on public input from a series of open house meetings and the involvement of a volunteer advisory committee. Now, it's time to celebrate that hard work and enjoy the beautiful pair of new bridges."
In addition to the construction of the bridges, the project involved drainage improvements. Three sections of rail from the original bridge were made into benches for the trail near Calvert Street. In the spring, trees will be planted to replace the ones removed for construction, and the landscaping will be completed.
In addition to Benesch, other project partners included Clark Enersen Parters, Historic Resources Group, Inc. and Hawkins Construction.
For more information about the Penny Bridges project, visit sheridanpennybridges.com.