HAMMOND | Workers following an aggressive schedule to tear down the condemned Cline Avenue overpass by the end of the year may be starting a little too early in the morning for some neighbors.
Residents of the far-north Robertsdale neighborhood complained last week that explosions and other noises from the demolition area were rousing them from bed early in the morning.
"Everybody was wondering what was going on," said Chuck Bucsanyi, who lives in the 2500 block of White Oak Avenue. "People were talking about it at Mass — 6 o'clock sharp, you could set your clock by it."
The Indiana Department of Transportation closed the 1.25-mile stretch of highway over the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal for safety reasons in 2009, and last year awarded an $8.9 million contract to Walsh Construction Co.'s Crown Point office to tear down the bridge.
Demolition is scheduled to be finished by the end of December, and a private company, United Bridge Partners, plans to rebuild the bridge between Riley Road and Indiana Harbor Drive as a toll road starting next year.
Most of the work is performed with hydraulic jackhammers, though some explosive charges are also used, according to the demolition plan, but at 120 feet in the air and less then a mile away from homes, sound can travel under certain conditions.
"It's like a fireworks display," said Bucsanyi, "But not steady. 'Boom,' 'boom' and then quiet for a while, followed by 'boom,' 'boom' again."
Much of the bridge is in East Chicago, where there are no local restrictions on the timing or volume of industrial noise.
And Walsh's demolition contract with the state doesn't contain set hours for when the work can be performed, said Matt Deitchley of the local INDOT office in La Porte.
Company officials say they usually start around 7 a.m., Deitchley said, but sometimes earlier, and have been continuing work until around 8 p.m. to meet their Dec. 31 deadline.
"We ask people to bear with us," Deitchley said, for the next few weeks.
United Bridge Partners plans to spend between $150 and $250 million to rebuild the overpass, which once linked the Chicago Skyway with the Indiana Toll Road.