Transportation and Infrastructure

WFIU Public Radio / https://www.flickr.com/photos/wfiupublicradio/5454447764/

Hoosier Motor Club Spokesman Greg Seiter says gas prices for Labor Day weekend will be the lowest in a decade.

This comes as 35.5 million Americans are expected to travel 50 or more miles during the period of Sept. 3 through Sept 7. Seiter says that's the highest number since Labor Day weekend of 2008.

“Well, it certainly does, for most people, mark the end of the busy summer travel season but this is going to be a busy on,” Seiter says. “We’re looking at a projected number that’s going to be higher than we’ve seen in quite a while.”

John Meyers Pedestrian Bridge
Sarah Fentem / WBAA

The City of Lafayette has been struggling to reopen the John T. Myers pedestrian bridge for the last two months, but has been thwarted by uncooperative weather, structural issues and delivery problems.

Now, it can add sub-par workmanship to that list. Sloppily-made railings for the bridge arrived two weeks ago, and it was immediately apparent they couldn’t be installed until they were repaired, pushing the opening date to mid-October at the earliest.

Robert Carr / https://www.flickr.com/photos/myconstructionphotos/1525875787/

The I-65 closure is affecting other construction projects in the state. If the bridge doesn't open by INDOT's projected date in mid-September, at least one other interstate project will be pushed back.

INDOT has said the I-65 bridge will reopen in mid-September. But crews are waiting to resurface a section of I-74 in Eastern Montgomery County until then.

INDOT Crawfordsville District spokeswoman Debbie Calder says restrictions that had been in place on I-74 westbound have been lifted to accommodate detour traffic, thus slowing down the reconstruction.

John Meyers Pedestrian Bridge
Sarah Fentem / WBAA

This year’s Beers Across the Wabash might better be referred to as “Beers Next ToThe Wabash.” Construction on the event’s usual home on the John T. Meyers Pedestrian Bridge is behind schedule and won’t be done for at least another two weeks – thus moving the festival into neighboring Riehle Plaza.

Lafayette Public Works Director Jennifer Leshney says the bridge was originally slated to open August 28, but is behind schedule thanks to what she refers to as a “railing delivery issue.” Leshney says the railings weren’t delivered in time but didn't offer any more information.

Kenneth Spencer / https://www.flickr.com/photos/kendo26/5606710714

Crawfordsville’s mayor is organizing an informal social media campaign to put pressure on railroad operator CSX to pay more attention to the city.

Mayor Todd Barton, speaking Thursday on WBAA’s Ask The Mayor, encouraged Crawfordsville residents to phone CSX to complain about trains clogging intersections in the city.

But he says the idea of an angry phone call may be passé.

Ryan Griffis / https://www.flickr.com/photos/grifray/195738091/

Indiana and the U.S. are seeing an uptick in traffic deaths in the first half of the year.

The National Safety Council says fatalities are up 14-percent nationwide. Indiana's 356 deaths represent a 23-percent increase, and the highest six-month total in three years.

Chris Goldberg / https://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisgold/5256004891/

Boone County Sheriff Mike Nielsen took to Facebook to vent about a dangerous intersection that’s getting heavy traffic as the official detour around a closed bridge on I-65 near Lafayette. His post was prompted by a fatal accident that killed a Lebanon woman Tuesday morning.

Nielsen wants the Indiana Department of Transportation to install a stoplight at the intersection of US-52 and State Road 47.

INDOT

4:30 p.m. Update:

INDOT now expects the bridge to be closed until mid-September.

The preliminary fix is to drive steel casings through the existing pier footings and deep into the soil.

But INDOT Deputy Commissioner Bob Alderman says that’s similar to the same process that caused the bridge to be unsafe – workers sinking a beam into an artesian well during last week’s construction work.

Alderman says water started pumping from the well into the ground around the bridge.

Mike Demers / https://www.flickr.com/photos/mdd/9890957405/

Governor Pence is dismissing charges by opponents that the closure of a bridge on I-65 near Lafayette is a result of neglected maintenance.

Pence says the bridge over Tippecanoe County’s Wildcat Creek was scheduled for replacement next spring. But while engineers are still trying to determine exactly why the bridge sank several inches into the ground, Pence says INDOT's tentative conclusion is that other construction work caused the bridge to settle.

He says engineers are studying whether erosion around an underground aquifer may have played a role as well.

Charlotte Tuggle / WBAA

INDOT is examining whether Walsh Construction’s actions may have played a factor in last week’s I-65 bridge closing.

INDOT Bridge Design Manager Jeremy Hunter says the sinking of the bridge that led to last week’s second closure came after Walsh inspectors deemed the bridge safe for travel.

“When we talked to Walsh, they had surveyed the pier and hadn’t recorded any settlement that we knew of at that time,” Hunter says. “And so, between the time that we installed those temporary supports and the time we closed the bridge on Friday, there had been substantial settlement.”

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