Finish date pushed back on MLK bridge in Gary, settlement reached with Superior
By Carole Carlson email@example.com | 648-3154 September 2, 2012 8:06PM
Raul Santos, of Lake Station, prepares for a concrete pour while working on the Martin Luther King bridge across the Borman Expressway in Gary Thursday Aug. 30, 2012. | Andy Lavalley~Sun-Times Media
Updated: October 4, 2012 6:04AM
GARY — Construction work has fallen nearly three months behind on the Martin Luther King Drive bridge, but the state has reached a settlement with Superior Construction Co. to recover costs for replacing it.
No details of the settlement have been announced yet, although an attorney for the state said an agreement was reached in late July. Robert F. Parker, the Merrillville attorney for Superior Construction, said both sides were working on a joint statement and he expected it to be released soon.
The bridge, a main north-south artery in the city, has been closed since May 19, 2010, after inspectors found cracking in the bridge’s decking and support beams. It was supposed to open in July, its new opening date is now mid-October.
Last year, the state sued the contractor, Superior Construction of Gary, to recover the costs of demolishing and rebuilding the bridge originally built in 2004. The bridge, which spans the Borman Expressway, was designed to last for 75 years.
Meanwhile, Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Matt Deitchley said the replacement bridge contractor, Dunnet Bay Construction Co. of Glendale Heights, Ill., experienced delays due to crane issues. He said it took longer than anticipated for a large crane to be onsite and to remove the bridge beams. “We were waiting on a crane, it was a big undertaking to remove those beams,” said Deitchley, who said high winds slowed the crane’s work, as well.
Last year, the state awarded a $3.18 million contract to low bidder Dunnet Bay to demolish and build a new bridge. INDOT postponed the October 2011, demolition to avoid winter lane closures on the Borman. At the time, work had just ended on a $270 million project to widen 13.4 miles of the Borman Expressway.
Dunnet Bay began demolition in late February, working primarily at night to minimize lane restrictions on the Borman. One lane was closed in each direction during the demolition.
On Thursday, workers wearing safety harnesses welded metal supports to the bridge decking high above the Borman. Deitchley said concrete on the decking will be poured in about two weeks.
Robert R. Foos, an attorney for the Indianapolis-based law firm, Lewis Wagner that represented INDOT in its lawsuit against Superior, termed the settlement sum “confidential,” saying he didn’t have INDOT’s permission to release it. INDOT officials couldn’t be reached for comment.
The lawsuit, filed in Marion Superior Court last year, sought to recover the costs of demolishing and rebuilding the MLK Drive bridge including any increased construction costs for the work.
Last year, Parker issued a statement on behalf of Superior, saying that its “long-standing and well-deserved reputation for excellence in the heavy construction industry will be vindicated.”
Superior and the bridge’s original designer, Indianapolis-based RQAW Corp. said the concrete used in the bridge may have deteriorated because of a damaging reaction called “delayed ettringite formation.”
Inspectors found cracking on the bridge deck as early as May 2005 and more cracks in the bridge’s support beams were noticed in March 2009, the lawsuit states.