East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland and a private toll bridge company say a new Cline Avenue Bridge is a go and could be open to cars and trucks within as little as 2.5 years.
The mayor met Thursday with Linda Figg, president of Figg Bridge Builder, and firmed up final plans for the 1.2-mile span to replace the failed Cline Avenue Bridge that was demolished last year.
"This bridge will in fact establish a beautiful gateway," Copeland said. "We needed Cline Avenue fixed, and we did not get stuck on why the state was not going to provide it."
United Bridge Partners, the consortium building the bridge, plans to start construction once all permitting is in place, probably in about six to nine months, according to a statement issued Friday. The bridge will take two to three years to build.
“We are very excited about the privately funded Cline Avenue Bridge to serve East Chicago and the entire area with great economic opportunities to improved transportation with an aesthetically pleasing bridge that will be a functional and beautiful bridge, accomplished with local materials and labor,” Figg said.
United Bridge Partners is pledging to use local skilled construction trades workers and landscapers. It is also pledging to use local suppliers of cement and steel.
It has been estimated the new bridge will cost between $150 million and $250 million, although Figg Bridge Builder has given out no official estimate.
The deal between United Bridge Partners and the city calls for the company to pay all costs of building the bridge and provide the city with a slice of tolls it collects.
On Friday, the company said it would put $3 million into improving one mile of road on either side of the bridge.
The bridge will be part of the E-ZPass electronic toll collection system. The Illinois Tollway and Indiana Toll Road also are members of that system. The amount of the tolls has not yet been divulged.
Indiana reversed course on the Cline Avenue Bridge after it was condemned more than three years ago, first saying it would replace it but then saying it would not. The state said it did not have the money to replace it and proposed a permanent detour using Dickey and Riley roads.