Engineers working on plan for I-65 bridge near Lafayette

Engineers could soon have a repair plan for an Interstate 65 bridge over Wildcat Creek, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

A 30-mile section of northbound I-65 has been closed for weeks because of safety concerns. The agency hopes to secure the bridge and reopen the northbound lanes between Lebanon and Lafayette by mid-September, the Journal & Courier of Lafayette reported.

Subcontractors believe installing a series of micropiles will stabilize a pier on the bridge that had sunk about 9 inches during construction as part of a project to widen the interstate and the bridge, said state Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield.

"Crews have been testing since Saturday how the repairs would distribute loads to the adjacent soils before finalizing the repair plans," he said.

Geotechnical and structural experts working with the agency expect final designs will be ready on Tuesday. Contractors have been working closely with the agency and sharing information so the state can expedite the final review and repairs can begin, Wingfield said.

The southbound I-65 bridge is supported by more stable soil and hasn't moved during construction, so it remains open to traffic, according to the Department of Transportation.

Movement on both bridges is being monitored by a sensor system installed by Purdue University's Bowen Laboratory, per the state's request.

Amid the closure of the I-65 bridge, Gov. Mike Pence is considering using some of the state's $2.14 billion in reserves to repair and improve infrastructure across Indiana. He said earlier this month that his administration is looking into options to free up resources to invest in the state's roads and bridges.

Last year, the Federal Highway Administration identified 1,902 bridges in Indiana, not including the northbound I-65 bridge, as structurally deficient and in need of major repair or replacement.

None of the $600 million set aside for major highway projects by the General Assembly in the last two state budgets was used to maintain existing roads and bridges.

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