MUNSTER | Lake County commissioners signed an agreement Wednesday to bear half the cost of reconstructing the Columbia Avenue bridge over the Little Calumet River.
The three-member executive board agreed to manage the $1.4 million project, which is designed to raise the elevation of the bridge over the waterway to provide a higher clearance to flood waters and debris. Work is expected to begin this spring.
The county, the town of Munster, the city of Hammond and the Little Calumet River Basin Development Commission have agreed to share the cost of the work. The county will pay half. The river commission will pay one quarter, and the two municipalities will split the remainder.
Public attention has been focused for years on Little Calumet River bridges linking Munster's and Hammond's street grids since a flood in 2008 swamped Munster's downtown and residential areas. Town residents complained some of the bridges were too low and represented dangerous gaps in the river's levee system.
Some in Munster called for the Northcote Avenue bridge to be closed, a move Hammond resisted. The communities have agreed to reconstruction of the Northcote Avenue bridge, too, in addition to rebuilding a former Monon railroad bridge as a bike and pedestrian trail.