Aged, shuttered Lake County bridge may be repurposed at central Indiana park 💥👩👩💥

CROWN POINT — A long closed, one lane, iron truss bridge over the Kankakee River at the southwest corner of Lake County soon may be removed for rehabilitation and reuse at a park in central Indiana.

Guilford Township, located in Hendricks County just east of Indianapolis, notified the Lake County Highway Department on June 1 that it’s interested in acquiring the State Line Bridge, making it safe for use and placing it across a creek in the township’s 205-acre Hummel Park in Plainfield.

“This (bridge), being a Pennsylvania through truss, is an uncommon bridge, and its height makes it a significant landmark. It is the goal of Guilford Township to make this bridge … a destination, provide a viewing platform for fireworks and provide additional access throughout our park,” said Daniel J. Kurdziel, VS Engineering bridge department manager, on behalf of the township.

The Lake County Board of Commissioners signaled Wednesday it’s open to the possibility of removing the State Line Bridge and sending it elsewhere.

The 222-foot-long bridge, also known as Lake County Bridge 36, was deemed structurally unsafe and shut down in August 1999.

It connects the narrow, lightly traveled State Line Road across the Kankakee River from Lake County into Newton County, right on the border with Kankakee County in Illinois.

Records show the bridge was built around 1900 and initially spanned the Kankakee River immediately south of what now is Illinois Highway 17 near the village of Sun River Terrace, between Kankakee and Momence, Illinois.

The bridge was moved to its current location, and possibly modified, in 1924.

A 2012 plan to repair the bridge in tandem with the replacement of the Range Line Road Bridge over the Kankakee River, east of Interstate 65, fell through when the single bid received for the job far exceeded cost estimates.

Since that time, State Line Bridge has become increasingly hazardous as it currently is unsafe even for foot traffic, a barrier to river navigation and a direct impediment to effective flood mitigation, according to Scott Pelath, executive director of the Kankakee River/Yellow River Basin Development Commission.

“In 2021 alone, the commission removed heavy debris on three separate occasions at significant expense. Unfortunately, because floodwaters surround the bridge during flood events, the emergency removal of logjams is impossible at the very moment it is most necessary,” Pelath said.

“Moreover, amid extreme water levels, the bridge itself is a barrier to the egress of floodwater. Under such conditions, there is a risk of the bridge becoming dangerously dislodged from its current location.”

Pelath said in a May 24 letter to the county commissioners that he’s eager to see the bridge removed as quickly as possible given the risks it poses to “residents, property and commerce throughout Northwest Indiana.”

The commissioners plan to seek an updated cost estimate for dismantling the bridge for potential relocation elsewhere.

They suggested the necessary funds could be found at the county, or in partnership with other affected entities, to make it happen.

Prior attempts to simply remove the bridge have been stymied in part by historic preservationists wanting the bridge either to remain in place or be repurposed in the Region.

Aged, shuttered Lake County bridge may be repurposed at central Indiana park

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