HAMILTON COUNTY, Ind. — Two timber bridges are closing in Hamilton County, at least for the time being.

Bridge 125 on Atlantic Avenue just south of State Road 32 in Lapel, Indiana, and Bridge 89 on 246th Street near State Road 213 and Brehm Road in White River Township have sustained structural damage, according to a Hamilton County Highway Department release sent this week.

Bridge 125 has a fracture near its center, which is likely the result of taking on a heavy load. The 45-year-old structure is also showing signs of additional deterioration, HCHD said.

Photo of Bridge 125 (via Hamilton County Highway Department)

“(Bridge 125) will remain closed until it can be replaced,” Bridge Program Engineer Matt Lee said in the release. “We have selected a design firm and asked them to expedite the project, but we’re looking at a closure of at least two years.”

Officials said that Bridge 89 has sustained damage similar to that of Bridge 125. The problems were discovered by the Hamilton County Highway Department during a biennial inspection. Bridge 89 is projected to reopen by Dec. 22, 2023.

“We have been discovering an increased frequency of core rot of substructure caps,” Lee said. “That’s when the timber develops cracks, allowing water to penetrate the wood and rot it from the inside out. We are working with our timber supplier and local engineering firms to develop effective detection and repair strategies to help reduce timber rot that could create similar future bridge closures.”

Hamilton County has 66 timber bridges, more than half of which are at least 30 years old. The Indiana Department of Transportation and the Hamilton County Highway Department are actively coordinating detour routes to account for the bridge closures.

The Hamilton County Highway Department said in the release that detour routes will be announced when they are finalized.

More bridges in Hamilton County could close in the coming years as the highway department will continue to perform biennial inspections to maintain its timber structures, according to county officials.

“While the closure of these bridges may cause temporary inconvenience, the safety of the public remains our utmost concern,” said Hamilton County Highway Department Director Brad Davis.