HAMMOND | One of the city's most prominent landmarks is disappearing, with only four spans of the Nine Span Bridge still hanging over the Gibson Yard railroad tracks.
But all remnants of the 1930s-era bridge may not be gone forever when demolition wraps up later this spring, said Matt Deitchley, spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation.
The parts for the one span, still hanging at the south end, will be stored for future use, possibly for use on a hike and bike trail, Deitchley said.
"They are taking it apart rivet by rivet, piece by piece," he said. "It will take a while."
Dunnet Bay Construction, of Glendale Heights, Ill., began demolition work at the site in early January. The company was awarded a $18 million contract for both the bridge's demolition and the building of a new span.
The Indianapolis Boulevard (Ind. 152) bridge was one of the busiest north-south routes in Hammond, according to INDOT traffic counts. It served as a gateway to East Chicago and the South Shore train station there.
Nine Span Bridge is what is known as a truss bridge. It's a type of bridge with a more than 150-year-old history that is slowly disappearing around the United States as they are no longer considered economical to build.
The new bridge is expected to be complete by the end of this year. It will be similar in appearance to other large bridges on the state's road network, Deitchley said.
Dunnet Bay Construction has been demolishing the Nine Span Bridge by taking out all lighting, stripping out the concrete deck and then cutting main support beams. The spans are being dropped one by one and then cut up and hauled away.
The Nine Span Bridge was rated as being in "poor" condition before it was closed for demolition, according to an inventory of bridge conditions kept by the Federal Highway Administration. It underwent major repairs eight years ago. In recent years, some heavy trucks were banned.
INDOT originally slated construction to start in 2009 on a replacement for the bridge. But the date was pushed back to revise its design so it did not interfere with development in Gibson Yard, according to state officials at the time.
The hoped-for development under the Nine Span Bridge already is turning into reality, with international fertilizer producer Potash Corp. building a $40 million transfer facility there.