7th Street bridge opens in time for Westminster College, McIntire Elementary classes

Westminster College students Chandler Becker and Christopher Goodwin Jr. walk across Seventh Street on their way to football practice on Monday afternoon. The street, which had been closed for construction to the Seventh Street bridge, reopened on Friday, Aug. 15 — just in time for classes.

Westminster College students Chandler Becker and Christopher Goodwin Jr. walk across Seventh Street on their way to football practice on Monday afternoon. The street, which had been closed for construction to the Seventh Street bridge, reopened on Friday, Aug. 15 — just in time for classes. Photo by Megan Favignano.

The Seventh Street bridge is open in time for the start of classes at Westminster College and McIntire Elementary. After about three months of construction work, the bridge opened late Friday afternoon — in time for Westminster College’s move-in day on Saturday. City Engineer Greg Hayes said while the bridge is open for traffic, there is still work that needs to be done.

“We wanted to try to make sure we got it open for the weekend,” Hayes said. “Although the bridge is open — we opened it for convience sake — there are still a lot of workers running around so be patient and courteous when you’re going through the area.”

During construction, the street between Westminster and Hickman avenues was closed to traffic. The bridge, which crosses Stinson Creek, helps connect some of Westminster’s student housing and its athletic fields to the rest of campus. Dan Haslag, executive director of plant operations and auxiliary services at Westminster, said the city’s plan was to have the bridge open before the start of school. Haslag was hoping it would be opened before Westminster’s move-in day on Aug. 16, which it was.

“It’s critical that we have access,” Haslag said. “We’ve been very pleased with the progress and appearance of the bridge.”

While the bridge was open in time for the college’s major move-in day, it was not open when the football and soccer teams started practicing last week.

Chandler Becker, Westminster freshman, said when the bridge wasn’t open, the team walked a long way around the campus to get to their field for practice.

“Having it open makes it so much easier to get to and from practice,” Becker said.

The city’s contractor and AT&T both still have workers on and near the bridge finishing up the project. The city has a metal railing that needs to be installed on top of the current concrete railing. And the city has lights on order that have not come in yet. They will install the traditional antique lights that can be found throughout downtown Fulton. They are also increasing the amount of lighting on the bridge.

“It was a lot narrower,” Hayes said. “There was no lighting on the bridge itself so all of this is improvement to lighting in the area.”

As part of the construction, the city widened the bridge. Originally, the traffic lanes on the bridge were 10 feet wide, now they are 13 feet wide. Before construction, the bridge only had a sidewalk on one side of it. Now, there is a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on each side of the bridge. Haslag said the additional walkway on the new structure makes the bridge safer. Safety, he said, was important to everyone involved on the project.

“Safety has to be paramount,” Haslag said.

The contractor is also doing work under the bridge on the trail. Hayes said all city contractors will be done by the end of August. He said drivers should be extra careful going through the area until all workers are finished and no longer working near the bridge.

Westminster begins classes on Thursday. McIntire Elementary, which is located on Hickman Avenue just beyond the bridge and college campus, starts classes on Wednesday.

Megan Favignano can be reached at (573) 826-2417 or megan@fultonsun.com.

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