WILLIAM NANGLE: Indiana must offer clear route to Cline bridge

2013-10-06T00:00:00Z WILLIAM NANGLE: Indiana must offer clear route to Cline bridgeBy William Nangle nwitimes.com
October 06, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Remember the Cline Avenue bridge?

Well, it seems the Indiana Department of Transportation hopes you’ll forget. It has been more than three years since Gov. Mitch Daniels stood at the site of the closed bridge pledging it would be replaced.

Instead, the state plotted a detour through city streets in East Chicago. Most of the detour is in the industrial sector of the city.

It’s a slow, boring ride to get across the Indiana Harbor Ship Canal and resume your trip on what was designed to be an expressway. It’s not at all the link to Chicago that was intended for Cline Avenue.

Unfortunately, the idea of a new bridge quickly fell on deaf ears in Indianapolis. Talks designed to have a private company build a new bridge and collect tolls to pay for it have been on and off for months and months. We have reported more than once the deal was done and a bridge would be built.

But with all the talk and all the announcements, there is no new bridge.

Frankly, it appears we are in the wrong part of Indiana to see Daniels’ pledge fulfilled.

While Northwest Indiana waits for a bridge that is an important cog in its transportation network, numerous bridges are being built and paid for by the state in the Indianapolis area. For instance, several bridges have been built over Keystone Avenue between Indianapolis and Carmel.

In all, the state has rehabilitated or replaced 615 of the 5,300 state-maintained bridges since 2006 – but not Cline Avenue.

Keep in mind the $300 billion lease of the Indiana Toll Road. Most of that money has gone to downstate projects, including $700 million to build 67 miles of Interstate 69 from Evansville to Crane and $423 million to improve I-465 around Indianapolis. But $30 million for a new bridge in Northwest Indiana is too much?

State Sen. Lonnie Randolph, D-East Chicago said it clearly – “We should not have to have them think twice about rebuilding Cline Avenue, because all the tax dollars they collect here go down to Indianapolis to help grow and build Indianapolis.”

And what about Gov. Mike Pence’s view? Well, apparently he has none. Attempts by The Times to secure his comment have resulted in his staff directing us to the state highway department.

So it goes, round and round with seemingly no end in sight.

While Northwest Indiana awaits a promised and much needed expressway bridge, the Hoosier Holy Land appears favored by the state with massive highway construction.

Deserved or not, the treatment by the state over Cline Avenue is making us feel like second class citizens. That is unacceptable.

William Nangle is executive editor of The Times. He can be reached at The Times, 601 45th St., Munster, IN 46321 or at bill.nangle@nwi.com.

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