Marini: Bridge a link to commerce, jobs, emergency aid and families
SPRING VALLEY — The new Spring Valley bridge, which links Putnam County to Bureau County’s second largest city, symbolizes much more than just eight spans of concrete across the Illinois River.
With its new name, the Illinois Valley Veterans Memorial Bridge, the structure embodies an unwavering, strong and unyielding veteran.
“It’s very name stands as a promise kept by our veterans to you as a citizen of the state of Illinois,” said Scott Buennenmeyer, 9th District Regional Commander of the VFW, during the dedication ceremony for the new Spring Valley bridge on Nov. 1.
“There will be a lot of maintenance done over the lifetime of this bridge. Make sure it doesn’t decay, make sure it doesn’t weaken, and make sure it’s protected. So should it be with our veterans,” he said.
The ceremony, held at Spring Valley Boat Club, brought together Spring Valley officials, engineers and construction crew members who were instrumental in the bridge project, state representatives, members of the Spring Valley VFW, color guard members of Dominic O’Berto Post 182 American Legion, and even two Spring Valley residents, Eva Pienta and Jane Kunkel, who were both present at the dedication ceremony for the old Spring Valley bridge in September 1937.
Spring Valley Mayor Walt Marini said, “The Illinois Valley Veterans Memorial Bridge means everything to our community.
“In simple terms, a bridge is a structure that connects two things. However, the bridge we’re here to dedicate means so much more. It is a means of bringing people to their places of employment, customers to places of business and service, emergency personnel to the aid of victims, and friends and family to each other. People connecting with people.”
When construction of the bridge was taking place, three members of the Spring Valley VFW Post 3666 —Jim Taylor, Blair Tiger and Dan Savitch — approached state Sen. Sue Rezin and former state Rep. Andy Skoog and suggested the bridge be named in recognition of the efforts and sacrifices made by the Illinois veterans and their service to the country.
The idea was well received, and on Thursday, Rezin said she was honored to have worked on the bill with Skoog to get the name approved.
“It’s only fitting to have this ribbon cutting very close to Veterans Day. Veterans in the state of Illinois are somebody both parties support. We need to make sure we continue to honor you,” she said.
The new structure provides improved safety, traffic flow and access for vehicles, pedestrians and bicyclists.
Joe Wick, project implementation engineer for Illinois Department of Transportation, recognized his team who helped oversee the day-to-day operations of the construction.
Tony Frazzini, project manager for ICC, which was the construction company hired for the job, recognized his crew members.
“We’re very proud to be involved in a project with this magnitude. It doesn’t get done overnight, and you can’t complete a project with this magnitude without the support and joint effort of everyone involved,” he said.
Throughout the project, ICC placed orders for more than 10,000 yards of concrete and set 5 million pounds of structural steel.
Plans to replace the bridge began in 2010. Construction began in February 2016. The new structure opened to traffic on June 18.
The $41.5 million project involved replacement of the old structure with a new one in a parallel alignment. The old bridge, which was constructed in 1934, was demolished in August.