After more than 10 years of preparation, construction is slated to begin on a new bridge traversing the Gila River in Bylas.

“The $12.7-million project is mostly paid for by the federal government, with the state kicking in a 5.3-percent match. The money will pay for more than 1 million pounds of rebar, 4,500 yards of concrete and more than 100,000 yards of earthwork to be moved around, according to ADOT Safford District Engineer Bill Harmon.

“This is only possible because of the hearts and hands of the community . . .,” he said.

“The new bridge will be constructed to the north of the old bridge, which will continue to have both of its lanes open during most of the construction.

“The new bridge is expected to be operational by this fall and will include 12-foot lanes with 10-foot shoulders, new guard rails and a pedestrian walkway separated from vehicular travel by a concrete barrier. Construction will then be halted for the winter, and final asphalt pouring will take place in the spring of 2013.

In addition to improving safety for the more than 500 vehicles that cross the bridge each day, the project is expected to create a number of jobs for tribal members. FNF Construction of Tempe, which has been ranked as Arizona’s number-one heavy highway contractor for 12 consecutive years, was awarded the bid for the project. Other recent bridge/road projects completed by FNF include the 1,083-foot bridge crossing the Gila River at Threeway and the new highway and bridges that traverse around the Hoover Dam.

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