Porter County working on getting land for Portage bridge project
By Amy Lavalley Post-Tribune correspondent July 17, 2012 4:56PM
Updated: August 19, 2012 6:26AM
VALPARAISO — The Porter County Board of Commissioners gave the go-ahead Tuesday to move forward with condemnation proceedings against the owners of a parcel of land the county needs to replace a closed bridge over Willow Creek in Portage.
The county, which is responsible for bridges 20 feet and longer on county and city roads, closed the bridge, which is on Evergreen Avenue, in March 2011 because the deck was crumbling, said Raymond Riddell, the county’s director of engineering.
The bridge was constructed in the mid-1960s. A similar one on Lute Road, which also failed, has already been replaced.
The county was going to replace it with a bridge the same size, but Portage officials wanted a bridge with sidewalks on both sides. The county agreed to a sidewalk on one side of the bridge, Riddell said, but that made the structure wider, necessitating the acquisition of three land parcels for easements.
The county has already obtained and paid for two of those land parcels, but the owners of the third, a trust, have not been responsive to the county’s request, Riddell said.
The county is offering $5,810 for the land, which is 2,265 square feet, Riddell said.
“In my opinion, the county has exhausted all its options,” Riddell said in asking commissioners for the condemnation.
County attorney Betty Knight said she would file condemnation proceedings in Porter Circuit Court by the end of the week. The county already has tried to negotiate a fair price for the land, she added, but beneficiaries of the trust couldn’t come to an agreement on the county’s offer.
The trust can make a counter offer and, if the county and the trust can’t reach an agreement, the parties can get an independent appraisal. The objective, Knight said, is to get the land for a fair price.
In other business, the commissioners approved funding not to exceed $10,000 for drainage work for the final plat of Arbor Lakes subdivision in Union Township.
The drainage work will include an outlet for the nearby Summer Hill subdivision; the developer of Arbor Lakes and the county will split the cost of the drainage project, expected to total almost $17,700.
The county plan commission approved the final plat for the subdivision at its meeting last week, said Dave Burrus, chairman of the drainage board, pending agreement by the commissioners to help pay for the drainage work.