FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) — Construction on the Bluffton Road bridge at Winters Road should begin early next year.
The $3 million project may prove a headache to drivers, but Allen County Highway Department officials plan for a detour on Ferguson, Thiele and Pleasant Center roads, directing heavy truck and vehicle traffic back into the Fort Wayne International Airport and Indiana Air National Guard.
The project over the Harber Ditch, expected to wrap up in about six months, will occur before the reconstruction of the Bluffton Road bridge over the St. Marys River at Broadway, a city project. City engineer Patrick Zaharako said replacement on the beams and deck will begin in early 2025 and will probably take around 18 months to complete.
The underwater pillars on the city bridge will remain. The new bridge, expected to cost more than $6 million, will feature wider pedestrian walks at 8-foot and 9-foot wide with a concrete barrier between pedestrians and traffic. There will be metal rails at the end for people to view the river from the 330-foot long bridge, Zaharako said.
“The beams underneath are showing stress and cracks and that’s why it’s currently rated at 12 tons, “ Zaharko said. Once completed, it will allow 40-ton traffic.
The county Bluffton Road bridge, rusted visibly on the sides, is coming to the end of its nearly century-old life. Built in 1927, the deterioration of the existing 50-foot structure determined the need for replacement, according to John Handke, a county project manager for bridge design.
On Friday, the Allen County Commissioners approved a $280,000 contract with USI Consultants for construction engineering services. Allen County Highway Department director Bill Hartman said the project will go out to bid in December and construction is projected to begin in February.
The county Bluffton Road bridge is one of two projects scheduled for this year. Both are 80% funded by the federal government, directly sourced from the 18 cents a gallon federal gas tax, Hartman said.
The other major project for this year is the $13 million Bass Road bridge and road reconstruction. The project is more than a mile long and won’t be finished until 2026, Hartman said.
“Bass Road, the project we bid this year, is quite large. Utilities are being moved right now and they’ve got probably two years of construction out there,” Hartman said during an interview Friday.
Hartman said he expects six projects to hit the docket next year. The two biggest are Fogwell Parkway, an $9.6 million project on the west side of General Motors at Lafayette Center Road to Winters Road, and Grabill Road Bridge on the St. Joe River. That $9 million project includes Clay Street at State Road 1, according to documents provided to WANE 15.
Fogwell Parkway “is the trucking supply line to the plant that will have quite a lot of traffic control. It’s four lanes now. It’ll be five lanes when we get done. It will all be brand new concrete,” Hartman said.
The Grabill Road project is located on the east side of Leo-Cedarville, Hartman said. “We’ll take the beams and the deck completely off of that and widen it out so we’ll have a safe trail crossing. That trail is a component of connecting Metea Park with Leo-Cedarville and then on to Grabill.”