FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The City of Fort Wayne Public Works Division and the Indiana Department of Transportation held a groundbreaking ceremony Monday to begin the project to update the Spy Run Avenue bridge over the St. Marys River. The investment for the upgrade is $5.3 million.

Each day around 23,500 vehicles pass over the bridge. The bridge will continue to provide three lanes of traffic, and the pedestrian sidewalks will double in size. A railing will be installed to separate pedestrians from traffic. Several parts of the sidewalk will have overlooks of the river and accent lighting will be installed.

Construction for the project is set to complete in the summer of 2023. The bridge, currently called the Governor Samuel Bigger Memorial Bridge will now be named the Fort Wayne Veterans Memorial Bridge. The City and the northeast Indiana delegation of the Indiana General Assembly worked together to rename the bridge.

In 2019 the city determined that the newly constructed bridge would also serve to honor veterans. Five plaques will be on display for each branch of the military and one of the city along the side of the bridge. Veterans throughout the area were in attendance at Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony celebrating how the city is honoring them.

Jimmy Dearmond, a veteran and part of the Warrior Breed Motorcycle Club, helped to break ground.

“What a great place to have a memorial for the veterans, so many people are going to see it, so many people are going to think about what veterans have done for this country and what we continue to do so it’s great to have it,” he says.

“They thought not just of certain services or certain eras but veterans in general, veterans in Fort Wayne and around the country. The veteran community in Fort Wayne is huge and it’s nice they’re thinking of veterans in general,” said veteran Brian Hullinger who is also with Warrior Breed Motorcycle Club.

Area businesses are used to construction projects and are prepared for what’s to come. Ben Hall with Don Hall’s Gas House off of Superior Street says, “there’s tremendous upside to rework on this bridge. It makes every single one of us very nervous when you see mom, dad and three little kids on bikes trying to go across the bridge right now. That will be a vast improvement, and the complications that come from getting there are complications, we’ll figure it out.”

Throughout the project, lanes of traffic will remain open, however INDOT encourages drivers to find alternate routes.

Residents at Three Rivers Apartments will have the entrance off of Spy Run and Superior closed for construction. A new entrance and exit will be put in on Columbia Street.