Bridge projects resuming in Lake County
By Carrie Napoleon Post-Tribune correspondent May 26, 2014 5:30PM
The bridge over the Kankakee River At Rangeline Road is slated for replacement later this year. The steel truss bridge with a wooden deck is at risk of failure if a vehicle were to strike any of the metal supports. | Carrie Napoleon~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 28, 2014 6:10AM
Work is expected to begin this fall on the replacement of the Rangeline Road Bridge over the Kankakee River in south Lake County.
Money has begun to trickle back into the county highway department’s bridge fund after the county council defunded its budget line item along with the highway cumulative capital fund in 2013 to help close a $15 million budget deficit.
The department’s two critical funds for road and bridge maintenance and repairs were refunded for the 2014 budget year, allowing work to finally proceed.
“We have a little money. We’re doing the best with what we can do,” said Marcus Malczewski, highway department superintendent.
The bridge at Rangeline Road is one of 26 in the county deemed functionally obsolete and in need of replacement in a 2012 inspection report that’s part of the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Highway Administration Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program.
Another 27 bridges in the county were considered structurally deficient following the 2012 inspection report, though one of those was removed after it was rehabilitated last year.
“We are due for the next round of bridge inspections later this year and will have a new listing in the fall,” said Duane Alverson, the department’s engineer.
County commissioners have approved a contract with DLZ Indiana LLC to conduct inspections in 2014 and 2016 for an amount not to exceed $620,500. The men described the inspection list as a fluid document that changes as problems arise and repairs are made.
Meanwhile, work is starting to progress on some of the worst bridges identified in 2012. American Structurepoint is performing construction engineering services on the Rangeline Road Bridge. The replacement is expected to cost roughly $1.5 million, with 80 percent of the cost coming from federal dollars and 20 percent from the county.
“That road continues to carry more traffic all the time,” Alverson said.
Malczewski said the Rangeline Road Bridge is unusual and has historical significance. It’s one of only a few steel truss bridges with wooden decks. Only one vehicle can cross the bridge at a time.
The county has been working since 1998 to get all the permitting and land acquisition in place for the replacement. As part of the deal, the bridge must be salvaged for possible future use.
“We have to take it apart and save the entire bridge system. We have to inventory it, mark it, store it and if somebody chooses, they can reconstruct it at different location,” Alverson said, adding that if the bridge is reconstructed it must be open for public use.
Federal funds to replace Rangeline Road Bridge were made available in a deal with the state government to rehabilitate, instead of replace, another historically significant bridge in South Lake County, the one over the Kankakee River at Stateline Road. That bridge is a Pennsylvania through-truss bridge and has been closed to traffic for more than three years.
The county has five years from the completion of the Rangeline bridge to repair the Stateline Road Bridge. That work is expected to cost around $1.2 million.
With some funding finally available, additional bridge work is planned this year. Commissioners approved $48,778 for engineering services by Hanson Professional Services in replacing the bridge on Colfax Avenue over Brown Ditch between 221st and 231st streets in South Lake County. Bids for the bridge project were opened and taken under advisement. Malczewski hopes that a contractor will be selected at the June commissioners’ meeting.
Bids also were opened for repairing the Calhoun Street bridge over the Little Calumet River in Gary. Clark Dietz was tapped to provide construction engineering services for $54,150. Malczewski said the contractor for this bridge also should be selected in June.
The highway department also is getting ready to take bids to repair the Stateline Road bridge north of the Kankakee River over the Niemeyer Ditch. The department repaired a hole in the bridge deck on Thursday and a full reconditioning is needed.
Malczewski said the final bridge to get attention in 2014 will be the Old Ridge Road bridge over Deep River in Hobart. That bridge is slated for rehabilitation.