Gary, railroad reach agreement on bridge construction
By Michael Gonzalez Post-Tribune correspondent August 21, 2013 3:52PM
Updated: September 23, 2013 2:32PM
GARY — City officials cleared a major hurdle to its plans to develop lakeshore and improve traffic flow in the Buffington Harbor area, home of two Majestic Star casinos, reaching an agreement with one of the nation’s largest railroads to build a new bridge over its tracks.
The Board of Public Works and Safety Wednesday approved the building of an $8.4 million bridge over Norfolk-Southern Railroad tracks in front of the Majestic Star casinos.
Scheduled to begin in October, the bridge is a key component of the city’s Marina Development Plan. Per an agreement with casino officials 10 years ago, the city built an access road from Cline Avenue that winds through the harbor and beneath an overhead railroad track bridge.
“Everything’s working fine,” City Planner Dwayne Williams said of the bridge plans. “(The bridge) allows the opening of the lakefront for industrial development, which leads to more job creation, and it opens better traffic to the casino.”
The project realigns the road leading from Cline Avenue, about six-tenths of a mile to the west, to the Buffington Harbor entrance.
The area beneath the tracks now is prone to flooding, but the bridge will take motorists over the tracks and to the casino and, if all goes according to city plans, to a marina area city officials want to develop.
The project awaits the approval of the Federal Highway Administration.
The city will be on the hook for 20 percent, or nearly $1.7 million, of the bridge’s expected construction costs, with the Indiana Department of Transportation picking up the rest.
Also per the contract, INDOT will reimburse Norfolk-Southern an extra $363,000 in costs for the railroad to perform “such temporary and permanent alterations” of communication lines, signal lines, signals and other facilities in its right-of-way.
American Structurepoint will handle construction management on the project, but it will be up to INDOT to hire all contractors to do the work, Williams said.