Indiana won't rebuild Cline Ave. Bridge

April 15, 2010 5:36:24 PM PDT
The Indiana Department of Transportation announced it will not rebuild the troubled Cline Avenue Bridge. Instead, the state will rehabilitate other roads to handle the traffic.

The project to resurface Riley and Dickey Roads will begin in May and cost $75 million over a three-year period, officials announced Thursday .

"We declared today that we're going to not rebuild the Cline Avenue Bridge. There are other footprints we could put down that make sense," said Bob Zier, Indiana Dept. of Transportation.

Zier announced plans to build several ramps; one will be on Wiley Road, another on Dickey Road and one on Michigan Avenue. He says the three-year project is expected to create 2,300 jobs which INDOT believes will be good for the economy in northwest Indiana.

In December 2009, INDOT permanently enclosed a four-mile section of the Cline Avenue Bridge over the Indiana Harbor and ship canal. The decision to close the bridge and demolish it instead of repairing it was because it was not safe and it would be too costly to repair.

"That structure is no good. That structure is decaying as we stand here, as I stand here and talk to you on a bright, blue skies and sunny day. That bridge is pulling itself apart," said Zier.

Not everyone is happy with INDOT's plans for the Cline Avenue Bridge.

"I think they dropped the bombshell on us today. It is disappointing to hear that. Cline Avenue is a vital link between the Chicago Skyway and the Indiana Toll Road to the 80/94 lane. It's a well traveled highway," said Dan Nurchek, Northwest Indiana Federation of Labor.

There were problems with the bridge from the beginning. In 1982 when it was being built it collapsed and 14 workers died in the construction accident. That section of the bridge is called Memorial Highway. INDOT plans to construct a memorial for the men who died.

"There is still going to be a memorial. We're looking for a better place to place it, more visually appealing," said Zier.