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Officials consider replacing Columbia Avenue bridge

Lake County officials want time to decide whether they will have enough funds in 2013 to help replace the Columbia Avenue bridge.

The County Board of Commissioners on Thursday deferred approval of an interlocal agreement with Hammond, Munster and the Little Calumet River Basin that would have the county bear 50 percent of the cost of replacing the bridge, a project expected to run $1.4 million.

The Little Calumet River Basin would pay for 25 percent of the project and Hammond and Munster would each pay 12.5 percent.

“It’s a project we want to do but can’t afford,” Commissioner Fran Dupey said.

Marcus Malczewski, highway department superintendent, said he requested commissioners defer a decision until his department has a chance to review where the project fits on the federal inspection rankings. Bridges are inspected every two years and ranked according to condition for either replacement or repair.

“As a general rule we take the first items very seriously, the replacements,” Malczewski said.

Currently, the Columbia Avenue bridge is not on either priority list. A new inspection report is due out early next year.

Malczewski said local officials would like to see the bridge raised because of problems that arise during flooding. However, the department has limited funding and must be sure bridges deemed in need of replacement are handled first.

“We want to make sure the money is spent wisely. We have to see where it fits in,” said Duane Alverson, county highway engineer.

The department’s top priority is Lake County Bridge No. 2 on Range Line Road in south Lake County. The wooden bridge is almost 100 years old and slated for replacement, he said.



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