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Damaged NW Indiana bridge’s replacement opens 11 years later

December 27, 2020 GMT

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. (AP) — A new 1.7 mile-long bridge for a main traffic route in northwestern Indiana has opened more than a decade after the previous bridge was ordered closed because of severe deterioration.

Traffic began traveling the new Cline Avenue Bridge in East Chicago after a Wednesday ceremony. The new bridge cost private operator United Bridge Partners more than $100 million to build and rises 100 feet above the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal as a link to casinos and steel mills along Lake Michigan.

East Chicago Mayor Anthony Copeland called the bridge opening a “great occasion” that was 11 years in the making since state officials shut down old bridge in December 2009 after an inspection showed it had become dangerously weak, The (Northwest Indiana) Times reported.

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United Bridge Partners is waiving tolls on the new bridge through January. The two-lane bridge is expected to carry 10,000 vehicles daily.

The old bridge was only open for 23 years before extensive corrosion prompted its closure. Demolition began in 2012 and replacement plans stalled until state officials reached a deal with the private developer that began construction in 2018.