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Cline bridge office building delayed
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Cline bridge office building delayed

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EAST CHICAGO — Four months after a ceremonial groundbreaking, city officials said the Cline Avenue Bridge reconstruction project is still on track, despite a delay in the construction of an operations and maintenance facility meant to be completed this fall.

A building permit for the facility was issued July 21, but the only visible evidence of the project is a construction trailer and sign at the Riley Road site. A ceremonial groundbreaking took place May 26.

Officials from the city and Figg Bridge Group, the company building the bridge, said the delay in constructing the office and maintenance building will not delay work on the bridge itself, set to begin in November.

"This isn't going to impact the bridge construction at all," Figg spokeswoman Eliza Partington said of the building delay.

East Chicago's building commissioner said in a written statement the city was notified Sept. 9 by Figg's project manager that "construction (of the operations building) was at a halt due to slag and unsuitable soil found during excavation."

The soil issue has required redesign of the foundation and resubmission of the plan to the state for approval. The "foundation will be modified to a pile foundation with concrete structural slab," Building Commissioner Winna Guzman wrote.

A new local building permit will have to be issued once state approval is secured. Partington said work on the building should begin in October.

The plan announced at the May 26 groundbreaking calls for a 3,300-square-foot building, which would include a lobby and reception area, five offices, a conference room, a kitchen, toll equipment and a garage for maintenance vehicles.

Meanwhile, FIGG intends to base bridge project management out of a temporary construction trailer, and to begin work on the bridge itself in November.

"The project is still on schedule," Mayor Anthony Copeland said last week. "I'm confident things are moving forward."

Well more than 100 local officials and members of the business community gathered under a sprawling white tent for the groundbreaking, the start of a long-awaited project to reconstruct the Cline Avenue Bridge by the summer of 2019.

The bridge was closed by the Indiana Department of Transportation in 2009, and demolished in 2013. Its reconstruction has been sought since its closure, but hasn't happened despite a series of plans, promises and false starts.

The infrastructure development firm United Bridge Partners, based in California, is financing the current effort, which has an estimated cost of at least $150 million. United Bridge Partners is a partnership of companies and investors that includes the Figg Bridge Group.

The new 1.2-mile bridge would rise 100 feet above the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal. It would operate as a privately owned toll bridge. In May, United Bridge Partners President Ed Diffendal said the toll for passenger cars would be "in the $2 to $2.50 range."

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