HAMMOND | As the city expands its network of bike trails, three new bridges to span busy intersections are in the works.
The bike bridges are planned for the intersections of 165th Street and Howard Avenue, 165th Street and Blaine Avenue and Columbia and Southeastern avenues.
The bridge at 165th Street and Howard Avenue is near Maywood Elementary School, and Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. said he's spoken with School City of Hammond Superintendent Walter Watkins on the project.
“I would be sort of baffled if the school city said they didn't want a bridge that would safely get kids over 165th and connect the bike paths,” McDermott said at a recent city event. “But at this point, it has been sort of frustrating. There's a couple of School Board members that weren't crazy about the plan.”
McDermott said there's sensitivity about an underground heating and cooling system at the school.
Because of the system, the bridge couldn't be dropped down in that location, so plans call for it to skirt around the east side of the school, City Engineer Stan Dostatni said.
“We're going to come up with something that works and makes everybody happy,” Dostatni said.
Deborah White, president of the Hammond School Board, said the project was brought to board members just recently, and they don't have all the information yet.
“We've asked the city to come and do a presentation for us because we didn't know anything about it,” White said. “We are just waiting for the presentation. Until we see the presentation we don't know what questions to ask.”
In May, Hammond and Whiting officials opened a new pedestrian bridge to connect trails in the cities. The bridge connects the George Lake Bike Trail in Hammond to the Whiting Lakefront Trail.
Besides the bridges, McDermott said the city also is exploring gaps in its trail network, including how to connect Hessville to the Erie Lackawanna Trail and how to better connect downtown Hammond and Robertsdale with trails.