PELL CITY – It could be September before construction of the Wolf Creek Bridge on U.S. 78 in the Eden community is finished.

“The Alabama Department of Transportation’s project to replace the U.S. Highway 78 bridge over Wolf Creek is expected to be completed no later than early to mid-September,” said ALDOT spokesman Tony Harris.

The bridge is along a major thoroughfare on U.S. 78, west of the historic downtown district of Pell City and east of Victory Christian School and Interstate 20.

Local officials hoped workers would have completed the project before the start of school, which begins Thursday.

Three months ago, Wanda Miller, the project engineer for the bridge project, said cars could be rolling across the bridge by June 1.

 Initially ALDOT officials estimated the completion date at Aug. 1.

The St. Clair County Commission sent a resolution to ALDOT asking that the bridge construction be completed as early as possible.

“… Due to the extended inconvenience and the beginning of a new school year, the St. Clair County Commission requests the Alabama Department of Transportation to urge its contractor to complete the replacement bridge construction at the earliest possible time,” the resolution states.

Harris said Friday the contractor remains within the time frame of the project contract.

“Crews are presently laying a crushed aggregate that will serve as a base layer for asphalt paving on the approaches to the new bridge,” Harris said. “Bridge rails and slabs at the end of each set of bridge railing will be completed during the next few weeks prior to the new bridge opening. Officials will open the bridge in late August if all paving, railing, and end slabs and lane striping are completed.”

He said the bridge replacement project began Aug. 3, 2013.

“The construction of the bridge has tremendously and negatively impacted the flow of traffic in and around the City of Pell City, causing great inconvenience to the public and businesses,” the St. Clair County Commission resolution states.

Some business owners said they were forced to close because they experienced a drop in business after that portion of U.S. 78 was closed to traffic.  

ALDOT officials said building a temporary bridge, while the new bridge was constructed, would've been too time-consuming and costly, so ALDOT was forced to close U.S. 78 and detour traffic to Wolf Creek Road North, South or to U.S. 231.

The new bridge is longer and wider than the old bridge.

The new bridge is 44 feet wide, while the old bridge was only 24 feet wide. The old bridge was 170.58 feet long, but the new bridge extends out to 225 feet.