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INDOT: Closing timeline uncertain

Thursday, November 3, 2011

On Thursday, Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) Media Relations Director Debbie Calder told The Brazil Times the organization wasn't sure how long the bridge on State Road 46 going over the Eel River would be closed.

The bridge was closed Wednesday after an INDOT Crawfordsville District Bridge Inspector discovered a crack in one of the gusset plates.

According to Calder, gusset plates are the thick sheets of steel used to connect beams and girders to columns. They can also be used to connect truss members.

Calder further explained gusset plates might be fastened to a permanent member either by bolts, rivets, welding or by a combination of all three. They serve as a method of joining steel members together and also strengthen the joint of the bridge.

Calder said the crack was discovered during a bi-annual inspection.

"We communicated with others within the bridge section and decided it was in the best interest of the traveling public to close the bridge," Calder said.

Calder said the bridge was built in 1933 and underwent rehabilitation in 1977. She added it was scheduled for another rehabilitation project in 2015.

"They inspect the bridge every two years," Calder said.

She said for now, motorists will have to use a detour traveling south on SR 59 to SR 246 in Clay City, heading east through Patricksburg before coming back to SR 46.

Calder added when INDOT offers the public detours, other state roads are used first.

Officials' reminder: Drive safely

Owen County Sheriff's Department Deputy Greg A. Denny recently informed The Brazil Times safety concerns have popped up due to the increase in traffic flow on State Road 246 following the closure of SR 46 at the bridge over the Eel River west of Bowling Green.

Denny said OCSD has received several calls of "unsafe driving behavior" on SR 246, specifically near the town of Patricksburg.

"There is an elementary school that sits on (SR) 246," Denny said via e-mail.

"There are children that walk to the school of a morning and then home after school in the afternoon.

"Close to the school, there are no sidewalks. School personnel do monitor the crosswalk area to the school."

Denny stressed the safety of children and citizens that live, drive and walk along the route is a safety concern.

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How nice of INDOT to close a bridge and give the people who rely on it to get anywhere, no idea of when they plan to fix it. Winter is coming and soon there will be snow and ice on the roads and how nice it will be that the only routes left available to the people of Bowling Green and beyond are narrow, twisting, winding roads that more than likely will never see a snow plow or salt. Instead of closing the bridge completely why not just close it to heavier traffic and leave it open for passenger vehicles? Or why not weld the crack as a temporary fix until they have the necessary materials to repair it fully? I think that we as citizens and tax payers need to put pressure on INDOT to get on the job and fix it before the weather turns.

-- Posted by Mr. History on Fri, Nov 4, 2011, at 1:30 PM

Mr. History,

Because "heavier" traffic will continue to use the bridge. What would happen if the bridge collapsed and lives where lost. Least we forget Minneapolis, MN in 2007. Thirteen people died and 145 people were injured. Thanks INDOT for protecting us!

-- Posted by Partrosie on Sat, Nov 5, 2011, at 4:29 PM

Yeah I'm sure the 2 are totally comparable, which they aren't. the bigger issue is that they are dragging there feet when it comes to fixing the bridge. There are many options available to them besides closing the bridge until 'they feel like fixing it'. This is not a massive undertaking to repair this bridge so they need to get off their collective, lazy behinds and get it fixed. We as citizens and taxpayers have rights too.

-- Posted by Mr. History on Sun, Nov 6, 2011, at 3:42 PM

I totally agree with Mr. History on this one. I live east of the bridge and it is more than an inconvenience. I travel daily to Brazil or Terre Haute in my passenger vehicle, and yes, the bridge is in a very deteriorated condition which can be observed if you are looking at it underneath, but it can be repaired or replaced quickly if INDOT would get on the ball. You can rest assured if this was a bridge that one of the "higher up politicians or state workers" used regularly, it would be at the top of their to-do list. I am concerned about any emergency vehicles that would be needed. The county roads are in deplorable conditions due to the overweight vehicles that travel on them during harvest times to avoid being caught and fined by the state police. Much needs to be done and this is just a drop in the ocean. Everyone wants to get where they are going in a hurry, at the risk of someone else's life that isn't familiar with the pot-holes, winding, curvy and narrow roads. With the buses now having to travel the backroads to pick up students and the driving aged, inexperienced students driving the back roads, all I can say is, leave a bit earlier and go slower. You never know who you might be driving behind, blinding them with your headlights in their rearview mirrors, or you might come around a bend on that narrow portion of the road and meet headon another vehicle who is also traveling that road. None of us are on any of these roads by ourselves, they weren't put there for one person, so be cautious and courteous. None of us would want to be the one in a head on collision nor would we want any of our loved ones involved in a crash, much less a head on crash. And INOT, if your reading this, get off of your duffs and fix the bridge. The options you give for an alternate route aren't even reasonable.

-- Posted by Clay County Resident on Sun, Nov 6, 2011, at 7:38 PM

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