Indiana agency rejects bill for emergency I-65 bridge work

Indiana highway officials have rejected a $1.4 million bill from a construction company for repairing an Interstate 65 bridge that experienced a month-long emergency closure last summer.

Walsh Construction Co. made the payment request for its work stabilizing a bridge over Wildcat Creek near Lafayette after pile-driving work was blamed for causing it to sink several inches. The company's invoice submitted in October cites costs for temporary supports, monitoring and equipment downtime, WLFI-TV in West Lafayette reported.

Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield said the company was responsible for designing the highway-widening project and didn't demonstrate why it should be paid more money than it was owed from its original bid.

"This did not sufficiently explain how there was a change in condition from the contract that was signed," Wingfield said.

A spokeswoman from the company's Chicago headquarters didn't immediately return a telephone message seeking comment Tuesday.

Wingfield said Walsh could appeal the decision to top highway department administrators.

The state last year awarded Walsh an $83 million contract to widen a nearly 10-mile stretch of I-65 to three lanes in each direction, which included added lanes on bridges at three locations.

The Wildcat Creek bridge, which was built in 1968, was closed from early August until Sept. 6 after engineers spotted movement in a pier along the riverbank. State officials said the primary concern was that a significant dig would develop in the bridge about 50 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

INDOT officials said they believed work driving steel piles into nearby soils led to sand and water bubbling up, causing part of the bridge to sink.

The bridge shutdown caused lengthy delays for drivers on a 52-mile detour and became a centerpiece of political arguments over whether Gov. Mike Pence's administration was spending enough money to maintain infrastructure.

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