An artist rendering of future Cline Avenue bridge

An artist's rendering of the Cline Avenue bridge provided by Figg Bridge Group.

It appears the long-awaited Cline Avenue bridge span will no longer be a bridge too far for Northwest Indiana.

The CEO of Figg Bridge Group told a Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce gathering Wednesday that a new toll bridge should open to traffic in 2019.

This definitive word comes about eight years after the old Cline Avenue bridge, once part of a main Region thoroughfare, was condemned and closed for safety reasons.

Since then, Region transportation planners sought help from the state and watched years tick by as the expanse remained closed.

The return of a viable bridge spanning an important Region traffic gap has far more positives than negatives.

Some vocal critics are opposed to the private building and operation of the bridge, which will charge a $2.25 to $2.50 toll for passenger vehicles.

Those same critics argue the Indiana Department of Transportation is somehow shirking its responsibilities by allowing a private venture to charge tolls.

But funding transportation projects with finite resources isn't easy, and the toll bridge concept finally moves forward a long-needed replacement span.

Residents seeking to avoid tolls still have the same alternative roadways they've been using for the past eight years. Meanwhile, Region commerce will benefit with an again unbroken flow of traffic on Cline Avenue.

Some critics also complain that the bridge will begin as only two lanes — one in either direction. Figg Bridge Group CEO Linda Figg said a span with additional lanes will be added later if the demand becomes apparent.

This is a good business decision.

Meanwhile, 10 cents of every toll will help fund needed East Chicago infrastructure projects.

We wish organizers of the bridge project a speedy completion.


Members of The Times Editorial Board are Publisher Christopher T. White, Editor Marc Chase, Deputy Editor Kerry Erickson, Assistant Local News Editor Crista Zivanovic and Regional News Editor Sharon Ross.