Those who regularly cross the All-America Bridge have one more reason to be thankful today.
The southbound span of the bridge, better known as the Y-bridge, will reopen at 9:30 a.m.
And, the two lanes on both sides of the bridge will stay open until the spring — when work resumes on the $6.2 million renovation project that includes adding a fence to discourage people from jumping from the span.
Drivers have been forced to take a detour — Perkins Street (Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard) to North Howard Street to Olive Street to North Main Street — that some have described as a parking lot during rush hour.
''People will be happy to not have to hit the detour,'' said Rick Evans, who is with G. Stephens Inc., the city's project manager on the work.
Before the project, an average of 9,000 cars a day used the Y-Bridge.
With nice weather, the detour will return, though only temporarily. The southbound span will be closed for a few months while contractors replace a portion of the bridge deck. Afterward, one lane will be reopened, while workers begin installing new decorative piers, lights and the fence.
Contractors will focus on the southbound span, which is the portion with a sidewalk and where more people jump, and then shift to the northbound side, where one lane will remain open while work proceeds, Evans said.
While the project is stalled this winter, the clock will stop on the 365-day window Posen Construction Co., the main contractor, has to complete the stimulus-funded project. The countdown will resume when work restarts in the spring. The project began in late March.
During the winter, materials will continue to be delivered to Akron and stored, so that work can begin as soon as the weather permits.
Rick Russell, vice president of operations for Future Fence Co., the company making and installing the fence, said during a recent meeting that he hopes the project will be completed by July.
One outstanding issue is the two-inch gap between the fence and parapet wall that city officials are concerned might provide people a toe hold for climbing the fence, which stands at 10 feet tall. The gap, evident on five panels Future Fence employees installed this month, is larger than the space on a fence mock-up that city officials previously approved.
''We are still talking about it,'' Evans said.
G. Stephens employees are making a float for the Welcome Santa holiday parade in downtown Akron this Saturday that will feature the Y-Bridge.
Asked if the float version of the bridge will include a fence, Evans said, ''You better believe it!''
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or firstname.lastname@example.org.