Corrosion forces state to shut Michigan City bridge

35-year-old structure was already scheduled for replacement
2007-08-11T00:00:00Z Corrosion forces state to shut Michigan City bridgeBOB KASARDA
August 11, 2007 12:00 am  • 

LAPORTE | The state shut down a four-lane bridge on the east side of Michigan City on Friday after discovering a corrosion problem is worsening at a faster rate than expected.

The bridge, on Ind. 212 between U.S. 20 and U.S. 12, already was scheduled to be replaced beginning later this year, said Angie Fegaras, customer service manager at the Indiana Department of Transportation's LaPorte District.

The corrosion is occurring in a space between the approach and the deck of the bridge in an area designed to allow room for expansion and contraction, she said. The corrosion has been fueled by a combination of the elements, road salt and vehicle oil, she said.

"Some of it is natural," Fegaras said.

The bridge was given a rating of 3 on a scale of 1 to 10 during a March 2006 inspection, which is a poor finding, she said. The bridge was inspected again Thursday and the decision was made to shut it down as a precautionary measure.

The most recent inspection and closing comes just more than a week after the deadly Aug. 1 bridge collapse in Minneapolis. Fegaras down played the connection.

"If this would have happened three months ago, they would have done the same thing," she said.

The bridge was built in 1972 and rehabilitated in 1997, Fegaras said. The most recent traffic study carried out in 2003 found the bridge carried an average of 8,860 vehicles a day.

The bridge carries traffic over a single set of railroad tracks operated by the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District for its freight and South Shore passenger service.

Train service is not affected by the closure, said NICTD Director of Marketing and Planning John Parsons.

He said INDOT officials have requested to meet with NICTD engineers in the coming weeks.

Fegaras was unsure how long the bridge will remain closed. A further investigation will be done over the next few weeks to determine if temporary measures can be carried out until there is a permanent solution.

The bridge replacement has been scheduled to get under way later this year and completed in 2008, she said.

A detour now directs northbound traffic to take U.S. 35 north to U.S. 12 east, while southbound traffic is being directed to U.S. 12 west to U.S. 35 south.

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