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New Nine-Span Bridge now open to traffic

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott were among politicians attending reopening Nine-Span Bridge Monday afternoHammond. | ChristNance Lazerus/Post-Tribune

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott were among the politicians attending the reopening of the Nine-Span Bridge on Monday afternoon in Hammond. | Christin Nance Lazerus/Post-Tribune

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Updated: December 9, 2013 8:48PM

HAMMOND — As the new Nine-Span Bridge opened to traffic on Monday afternoon, a vestige of the past remained on display.

Two plaques, unveiled by state and local officials amid blustery winter winds, are posted on either side of the bridge. They detail the history of the previous bridge, which opened in 1930.

That bridge, named for its length and construction, had deteriorated and was closed in January.

Monday’s opening for its replacement drew a slew of politicians and public officials: Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann and Indiana Department of Transportation LaPorte District Deputy Commissioner Robert Alderman joined Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott, East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland, and State Rep. Ed Soliday, R-Valparaiso. The ceremony was not just well-attended; due to the freezing temperatures, it was also conducted at a brisk pace.

McDermott said area businesses were understandably worried about the closing of the old bridge hurting their bottom line, but the project was completed in less than a year due to cooperation from local and state officials.

Copeland said the Indianapolis Boulevard bridge serves as a vital connection between the cities.

“It’s the glue that brings the cities together,” Copeland said. “It’s a mission accomplished.”

Soliday, R-Valparaiso, said the project was an example of what can be accomplished when officials work together. Soliday said Northwest Indiana received $400 million in state funding for similar infrastructure projects.

The demolition and reconstruction cost an estimated $18 million and was completed by Dunnet Bay Construction of Glendale Heights, Ill.

Copeland and McDermott capped the opening by cruising across the bridge in 1955 black-and-white Hudson Hornet.

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