Bids on the long-delayed Nine Span Bridge replacement will be opened by the Indiana Department of Transportation on Oct. 11, with construction slated for completion by the end of 2013.
Work on the bridge should start early next year and its design will allow for developments now under way at the Gibson Yard rail facility underneath, INDOT spokesman Jim Pinkerton said.
INDOT originally slated construction to start in 2009 on a replacement for the Nine-Span Bridge. But the date was pushed back in order to revise the new bridge's design so it did not interfere with development in Gibson Yard, according to state officials at the time.
At Tuesday's meeting of the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, Pinkerton pointed out the Nine-Span Bridge project and another for repaving U.S. 30 between Taft Street (Ind. 55) and Lake Park Avenue (Ind. 51) as the major October bid openings for INDOT's LaPorte District.
The Nine-Span Bridge is currently rated as being in "poor" condition and underwent major repairs eight years ago. Some heavy trucks are banned from the bridge. It carries Indianapolis Boulevard vehicle traffic over the CSX tracks and Indiana Harbor Belt's Gibson Yard.
At one time, Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. offered to delay the Nine-Span Bridge replacement if it would speed the replacement of the failed Cline Avenue Bridge. State officials never took him up on the offer and now the plan is to turn the Cline Avenue Bridge right-of-way over to a private company that wants to build a toll bridge there.
The hoped-for development under the Nine-Span Bridge already is turning into reality, with international fertilizer producer Potash Corp. building a $40 million transfer facility there.
INDOT plans to save and store at least one section of the 1930s-era Nine-Span Bridge for possible future use as a trail bridge. A trail project along the new Hoosier Heartland expressway is currently making use of a recycled highway bridge, Pinkerton said.