Tippecanoe Co. bridge was last inspected in May as crews continue emergency work along I-65

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TIPPECANOE COUNTY (Aug. 5, 2015) – Emergency bridge repairs entered its second day Wednesday along a portion of I-65 outside of Lafayette.

Temporary steel supports were fabricated overnight in Indianapolis and rushed to the site over the Wildcat Creek Wednesday afternoon as both state and federal transportation officials oversaw repairs.

INDOT has shut down the northbound lanes of I-65 beginning at U.S. 52 north of Lebanon. INDOT anticipates having the bridge fixed and I-65 reopened by sometime on Thursday, but said late Wednesday it could be as early as sometime Wednesday evening.

“It was definitely serious because we do not shut down the interstate if it is not,” Debbie Calder said, an INDOT spokesperson.

Calder said a private contractor saw a rocker bearing on one of the piers fall over causing the bridge to sag.

“We were able to get out here fairly quickly to get things shut down,” Sgt. Kim Riley said with the Indiana State Police.

All day Wednesday, traffic has slowed motorists along U.S. 52 as part of the detour route.

“It’ takes awhile when you’re moving hundreds of cars from one lane to another,” Riley said.

The bridge was under construction as part of a lane expansion project on I-65.

Calder said Walsh Construction, which was awarded the project, is fixing the bridge with oversight from INDOT.

The bridge was last inspected in May. Officials said the bridge’s deck was rated satisfactory, the super-structure fair and the sub-structure poor.

“Now that does not mean that it was unsafe because if INDOT believed that there was anything unsafe with that bridge, we would have shut that bridge down just like we did yesterday,” Calder said.

Federal records show of Indiana’s 19,019 bridges statewide, 10 percent were rated structurally deficient at the end of 2014 and 11.5 percent deemed functionally obsolete.

The rating doesn’t necessarily underscore a bridge’s structure. It could also include traffic and clearance problems.

“There’s other bridges that I’m sure are in poor condition,” Calder said. “But we are working to repair bridges. We have for the last 10 years that I’ve been here, and we’re continuing to update bridges.”

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