Goshen News, Goshen, IN

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June 5, 2013

U.S. 33 bridge project discussed

BENTON — Concerns of life and death and property were the issues presented by Benton Township Trustee Dick Longcor during a public hearing held by the Indiana Department of Transporation Tuesday.

He spoke during the public comments section of a hearing about the proposed bridge project at U.S. 33 over the Elkhart River near Benton that would close U.S. 33 during the bridge construction with detours on Ind. 15 and U.S. 6.

“It’s not of inconvenience, it’s concerns of life and death. It would take five to six minutes to get there (on the other side of the bridge with the detours),” Longcor said. “Seventy-five percent of Benton Fire Department calls go across the bridge. I’m looking at life and death and property. You say it costs more, but please take into consideration to make it a one-way, whatever we can do to keep traffic. It’s strictly safety and life.”

Eric Brunn, Project Manager of Strand Associates, told the audience the proposed closing of U.S. 33 for the bridge project is the most economical option. The proposed date for construction is tentatively set for late summer in 2015 with an estimated cost of $1.4 million.

“It will have the shortest construction time and it’s the safest for the traveling public and construction crews,” Brunn said. “The worst case scenario is 130 to 150 days for completion of the project.”

There were two other alternative options for maintenance of traffic during construction:

• A temporary runaround with a temporary bridge approximately 200’ long which would increase construction cost and time.

• Construction with temporary traffic signals and one lane traffic with increased construction cost and time.

Mary Wright, Public Hearing Examiner for INDOT, said the project proposes replacement of the bridge deck and widening of the existing six-span, concrete arch bridge constructed in 1953, and reconstructed in 1984.

The existing concrete slab has severe deterioration with significant patching and the deck is 60 years old, Wright said.

No action was taken Tuesday night.

The next step will be the submittal of the final design study report by Strand Associates to INDOT.

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