RDA will not fund Cline Avenue bridge

2011-07-26T16:00:00Z 2011-07-27T07:40:07Z RDA will not fund Cline Avenue bridgeBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

The Northwest Indiana Regional Development Authority has ruled out funding the rebuilding of the Cline Avenue bridge, but the agency will be collecting data demonstrating the bridge's importance to the local economy, said RDA Executive Director Bill Hanna.

In comments after Tuesday's RDA meeting at the Purdue Technology Center of Northwest Indiana, Hanna confirmed some community leaders have suggested the RDA put up money to rebuild the bridge. But putting up millions of dollars to rebuild the bridge would not fall within the RDA's statutory mandate and would mean another project would have to be dropped, Hanna said.

"We feel as a board it's outside the scope of the RDA," Hanna said.

The RDA is moving forward on collecting data on the economic development potential of its own projects and other developments in the area of the Cline Avenue bridge, including the Gary/Chicago International Airport, Hanna said during the meeting. It also wants to get a better idea of what types of vehicles use Cline Avenue and for what purposes.

On July 1, the Indiana Department of Transportation ran out of patience with a pending deal to have Ameristar Casino put up $35 million toward the bridge's rebuilding. That would have covered virtually the entire state share of the bridge's funding.

Instead, INDOT said it would stick with its plan for a permanent detour. That detour uses Riley Road and the break-down prone Dickey Road drawbridge.

However, a couple weeks later, Gov. Mitch Daniels said he would give community leaders in Northwest Indiana one more chance to come up with a solution for building a new bridge. INDOT says it cannot afford to rebuild the bridge under its Major Moves program, although it was slated for a $90 million superstructure replacement next year.

The bridge was closed in November 2009 and then condemned in December that year when it was found internal support cables had become gravely weakened.

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