Added safety measure to delay Coliseum bridge opening

March 30, 2019 GMT

A new pedestrian bridge across Coliseum Boulevard will receive an added safety measure, further delaying its opening, a state transportation official said Friday.

The Cole-Parker Crossing bridge, which connects Purdue University Fort Wayne and Ivy Tech Community College, was initially set to open in August. The Indiana Department of Transportation’s goal now is to have it open before classes begin in August, said Nichole Thomas, the transportation department’s media relations director.

Late last summer, engineers noticed inconsistent, erroneous readings when testing the tension of the bridge’s cables, Thomas said. The erroneous readings continued through the winter and officials believe they’re the result of the structure’s complex design, she said.

Officials are convinced the bridge is safe, Thomas said, but to be absolutely sure, a pier will be added for extra safety. The pier “will allow the bridge to carry its load in the event of extreme conditions,” including high winds, she said.

The pier is also expected to stabilize the readings, she said.

Although the bridge connects Purdue Fort Wayne and Ivy Tech, it belongs to the state because it’s over a state highway, she said.

“We want this bridge to last,” she said.

The Indiana Department of Transportation is paying 80 percent of the cost, which was about $4.5 million last August. The pier will increase that cost, though it’s unclear how much, Thomas said.

Donations from the Olive B. Cole Foundation and Mac and Pat Parker will cover the remainder of the cost.

When construction began in April 2017, officials said about 1,000 students travel between the two campuses each day. When finished, the bridge can be illuminated and more than 200,000 LED lights will allow it to change color.