The Eel River Bridge repair project is underway, sort of.
According to Indiana Department of Transportation officials, the bidding process for contractors to repair the bridge began Nov. 24.
"(On Wednesday), we opened the bidding process in Indianapolis for a project to repair the bridge," INDOT West Central Indiana Public Information Officer Debbie Calder recently told The Brazil Times.
On Oct. 12, at least four of the top beams and two side beams of the bridge were damaged when struck by a garbage truck. Apparently the hydraulic trash bucket on the garbage truck didn't lock properly and rose up to hit the bridge while the driver was traveling eastbound on State Road 42, just west of Poland and is located approximately seven-miles east of State Road 59.
No injuries were reported during the accident.
The next day, officials from INDOT Crawfordsville District Bridge Inspectors, INDOT's Rehabilitation Section and a private consulting firm recommended the bridge should be closed to traffic until a safe weight limit for the bridge could be determined.
INDOT officials confirmed to The Brazil Times one of the overhead truss members has to be replaced to make the bridge safe for traffic.
Motorists are being rerouted around the area while the bridge is closed.
Several local residents have called local officials with their concerns about the major inconvenience.
McCullough confirmed many of the conversations he has had dealt with the potential safety hazards -- like fire departments and emergency services not being able to access the area when needed -- and farmers not being able to get their crops out.
"The sooner it opens, the better off it will be for everyone concerned," McCullough said. "A few farmers have been affected and they have had to take alternate routes to get their crops out. It's a good thing this didn't happen earlier during the harvest because most farmers already had their crops out of the fields."
The age of the bridge and its unique construction style, according to McCullough, could make the project difficult.
"It's an old bridge, and parts probably aren't going to be easily available. They will probably have to manufacture what it will take to fix it," McCullough said. "It's probably going to take some time."
However, according to Calder, weather could play a more vital role in how quickly the bridge will be repaired.
"We will know more after the contract is awarded to a contractor and we can get their schedule and plans as to when they can get it done and what need to be done to make the repairs to the overhead truss on the bridge," Calder said, adding a contract could be awarded as early as this week. "We're anticipating construction to begin as early as mid-December. Of course that is weather dependent."
The eastbound detour around the bridge follows SR 42 westbound to SR 59 northbound, to Interstate-70 eastbound to SR 243 southbound and back to SR 42, while the westbound detour is reverse for traffic traveling in the opposite direction.