Starke County Commissioners Discuss Bridge Repair

County bridge #156 over the Robbins Ditch

The Starke County Commissioners held a lengthy discussion with all involved in the bridge #156 reconstruction or rehabilitation. The bridge, located at 400 North and Range Road, has been closed for approximately a month.

“It is an inconvenience with Range Road being closed, not only just for the farmers but for businesses as well as the Highway Department, schools, EMS, mail carriers, and any other emergency vehicle, ” said Starke County Highway Superintendent, Steve Siddall. “We really want to try and open that back up as soon as possible. The biggest thing is the permits from the DNR. The permits could hold us up for at least six months and hopefully the DNR wouldn’t do that, but you never know.”

The Commissioners were frustrated to hear that if the federally funded project was approved, the work would not be finished until 2013.

“That really was no surprise,” continued Siddall. “When the Commissioners signed this in 2009 to go forward with the federal aid project, it was set back then and Dan [Bridegroom, Commission President] and I sat through INDOT meetings and they said the money would be funded for 2013.”

That was totally unacceptable to the Commissioners who said the bridge cannot be down that long. Over 400 vehicles a day go over that bridge.

A number of alternatives were discussed in place of building a new federally funded bridge, including a plan submitted for a new deck by Lee Nagai. A new bridge would cost approximately eight times more than what Nagai has proposed.

“It’s quite a bit. If we go with federal aid, the companies talk about going 400 feet past the bridge deck which will take it from 56 feet long to 100 feet long, which will widen the canal. There’s a side ditch that comes into that that feeds it, there’s a retaining wall in there if we go with federal money. That’s why this one is so much more money than the average bridge.”

The Commissioners will meet Friday at 11:30 a.m. to talk more about the new bridge and alternatives.