(Michigan City, IN) - The Franklin St. bridge is going to be closed starting on Monday for repairs. It’s scheduled to reopen on the 9th of March.
The next round of repairs to the draw bridge involve mostly electrical upgrades and replacing worn gears, said La Porte County Highway Engineer Jay Sullivan. Sullivan said the upcoming fix has more to do with preventative maintenance so the bridge doesn’t start becoming stuck again. “If it gets stuck, and as old as it is, it might be a couple of weeks before we get parts for it,” Sullivan said.
The bridge beinh stuck down for an extended period means sailboats heading to and from Lake Michigan would be unable to pass underneath it. Not lowering produces major traffic back-ups, especially during the summer, and forces motorists to use Center Street, a narrow, curvy street nestled in the dunes to get to the beach and Washington Park Zoo.
$489,000 for the repairs was approved by the La Porte County Council last month. The fix was ordered to start immediately so the job can be completed by March 15 when more people start heading to the lakefront.
La Porte County Council President Randy Novak said a committee might be formed to begin discussing the future of the bridge. He said the plan is to keep the bridge operating for at least another five to seven-years to provide time for saving money if a decision is to replace the bridge.
$1.2 million was spent in 2019 to replace broken gears and fix structural issues blamed on arctic-like cold. Several months later, it cost another $200,000 to fix damage caused by a car trying to make it across as the bridge as it started to lift. The car slid to the bottom and was crushed by the bridge locking back down.