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Wood River Bridge construction on winter break but still on schedule

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Thea Card
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The $19 million dollar bridge is reported to be right on schedule and will resume construction in the spring.

The Wood River Bridge connecting Dillingham to Aleknagik is coming together on schedule, even with a winter break.  KDLG’s Thea Card recently took a look at the bridge and filed this report.

“Well, I saw recently somewhere where there was a headline that said ‘Here’s one bridge in Alaska that is to somewhere,’ or something to that effect.”

Dillingham resident Dan Dunaway drove me to the construction site.  To say that it was windy would be a gross understatement.  It was cold and rainy and the roads were bad.  We had to walk past large shipping containers and then we made our way to what will be the Wood River Bridge.

As we stood at the edge of the bridge the water rushed hurriedly down the river. Dunaway told me a little about the history of the project and a bald eagle swooped down. 

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Credit Thea Card
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A speed boat races under the bridge.

Mowat Construction is the company building the bridge for over $19 million with money from both state and federal sources.  Project manager for Mowat Tim Hutton is the leader of this bridge project. He was up here during the summer to oversee the work.  He says the bridge is looking good.

“We’re just over 50 percent complete.”

The Wood River Bridge will connect the Bristol Bay communities of Dillingham and Aleknagik.  It has two lanes, spans 440 feet long and provides a minimum of 40 feet of clearance above the river. 

City administrator for Aleknagik Kay Andrews is excited this project is coming to fruition. 

“I feel like it would save lives, it will bring our community closer together, there’s economic opportunity. Again safety number one for not only our school children which was a big motivator for this project, but also the people to keep them safe.”

Andrews says this project is something the community has been working towards for over 20 years.

“It’s a long time coming.”

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Credit Thea Card
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The bridge will be two lanes and span 440 feet across the river.

Although it’s not a very long crossing it can prove to be dangerous.  Andrews says many people have lost their lives trying to cross the river in the fall and spring, when the ice isn’t stable.

“My own mother and my uncle drowned on Lake Aleknagik when I was only six years old, so I know the personal impact of losing a loved one on Lake Aleknagik. As well as my Uncle Paul and my cousin Kevin. So in my family alone we’ve lost a lot of family members.”

However, Andrews says she stays strong and is honored to hold her position in the city. 

“I just am thankful that I’m able to carry this vision through.”

Hutton says construction will pick up again in April and the bridge will be complete by October 2015.