MUNSTER — It will be green grass, sunshine and summer weather when the bridge on Main Street fully reopens again. Until then, commuters will have to find alternative travel routes as they brave the final stretch of lingering winter.
The complete removal and reconstruction of the bridge will begin Friday, closing a section of Main Street for more than three months. The bridge, between Calumet and White Oak avenues over Hart Ditch, will be closed to all traffic during this time.
"It's going to be a profound inconvenience for commuters; however, the end product will be a bridge that's far safer and consistently reliable, which is important to residents and businesses in the community," said Dustin Anderson, Munster town manager.
The Lake County Highway Department, which is responsible for the project, said the bridge was structurally deficient and had a low-limit capacity for vehicle weight, according to Duane Alverson, an engineer for the department.
The bridge originally was built in 1965. A lot has changed since then, including the Region.
Munster, like many surrounding communities, has grown in housing and commerce — adding up to more vehicles on the road.
"Everyone's trying to improve their infrastructure to meet their needs as they grow," Alverson said. "We try to work with them hand in hand. Munster has been pursuing many projects aggressively to improve their infrastructure."
The new bridge will have sidewalks and will be 7 feet wider and 26 feet longer than the previous bridge.
Lake County accepted bids for the project through Dec. 4 and in early November they alerted Munster town officials the work was expected to begin in February and finish by June 1.
Construction typically will be from 7 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, though there may be alternate scheduling due to work conditions, according to a news release from the Munster Police Department. For nearby homes and businesses, noise levels could be high at times during pile driving.
Located a half-mile east of Calumet Avenue, the bridge will be closed to all traffic, but it will be closed no longer than 105 days or June 5, Anderson said.
Residents in Munster’s Briar Creek subdivision, located east of Hart Ditch, especially will be affected by the bridge reconstruction because there is only one entrance, Anderson said.
Those who normally travel over Hart Ditch will need to find alternate routes to access Calumet Avenue and Indianapolis Boulevard, such as White Oak Avenue north to 45th Street, U.S. 30 or Ridge Road.
Motorists should follow detour instructions to alternate routes along U.S. 30 between Calumet Avenue and Indianapolis Boulevard.
The Munster Police Department has asked those driving trucks to avoid nonprescribed alternate routes through residential areas because of road weight limits and community noise standards.
Residents of Briar Creek, located east of Hart Ditch, will be able to use White Oak Avenue as an alternative route.
Cobblestones residents can enter and exit their Munster subdivision via either Main Street, west of Hart Ditch, or along Calumet Avenue.
Briar Ridge Country Club, which spans across Dyer and Schererville, has two entrances, one along Main Street across from Briar Creek, and the other on 213th Street in Dyer.
Those with questions concerning the project can call the Lake County Highway Department at 219-663-0525, DLZ Engineers in Munster at 219-836-5884 or Ellas Construction at 219-938-0860.
This spring will bring another road construction project that will be just one mile north of the Hart Ditch bridge. The plan is to realign 45th Street and build an underpass for traffic to pass underneath raised tracks for the Canadian National Railroad.
Opening bids regarding the project will begin Feb. 20, Anderson said.
While no start date has been set for the construction, Anderson previously said that he wouldn't allow 45th Street to be torn up at the same time as the Main Street bridge reconstruction because traffic will need to be diverted from Main Street.
Times correspondent LuAnn Franklin contributed to this report.