Officials consider future of Cline Ave. bridge after closure

January 5, 2010 7:35:22 PM PST
Indiana governor Mitch Daniels toured the Cline Avenue Bridge Tuesday. Transportation authorities in Indiana said last month that a four mile stretch of the bridge will be closed permanently because of safety concerns.

Gov. Mitch Daniels got briefed on what could come next for the closed Cline Avenue bridge on Tuesday.

"No one knows what that something is or ought to be. It's an unfortunate development. On the other hand, whatever replaces the Cline Avenue bridge will be designed for now and for the future," said Daniels.

On November 13, the bridge was closed because of significant corrosion in the section that goes from Calumet Avenue in Hammond to Michigan Avenue in East Chicago.

Last week, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) announced it would permanently close and demolish a section of the bridge over Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal. INDOT officials said the bridge should have lasted 75 years instead of 25.

"I'm just so glad that I didn't have to come here on the heels of a tragedy," said Daniels.

"To repair it to the point it's functional not only is incredibly expensive, it really doesn't have much of a service life," said Mike Reed, Commissioner, INDOT.

"The rate of corrosion has increased over time. So that's one of the key things that really brought us to taking this action," said Bill Meeks, INDOT.

The stretch which will be closed is four miles long and 1.2 miles is elevated. It serves as an industrial artery to steel mills along Lake Michigan and casinos in East Chicago and Hammond, Indiana and other businesses in the area.

Earlier, the governor had said the state has money for whatever it takes to replace the Cline Avenue bridge.

INDOT said it will work with local communities to identify the best long term options for replacing it.

Thirty thousand cars travel the bridge daily and are now forced to find alternate routes.