County commits to Clifty Creek bridge repair

A bridge over the Fall Fork of Clifty Creek is tentatively scheduled to reopen in Clifty Township this fall.

Two years after the maximum weight limit on Bridge 39 was lowered to 3 tons, the county closed the structure on County Road 300N, about a mile north of Anderson Falls Park, in May 2015.

The 103-foot-long Pratt truss bridge, located southwest of Hartsville between County Roads 1100E and 1125E, was placed off-limits indefinitely due to heavy rusting of critical beams, Bartholomew County highway engineer Danny Hollander said.

While the county originally had planned to replace the entire structure, all bids received in 2015 from construction firms came in substantially over the anticipated cost, Hollander said.

Those higher bids appeared to be the result of larger-than-normal demand for contractor services in both public and private sectors, Hollander said at the time.

With the low-traffic volume of 130 vehicles daily, as well as the presence of alternate routes, the commissioners did briefly consider closing the bridge for good, Hollander said. However, all three commissioners have long voiced strong objections to the idea of any permanent bridge closures, due mostly to public safety and liability concerns.

This week, the Bartholomew County commissioners agreed to sign a $28,000 contract to hire Strand Associates to perform preliminary engineering work for the Bridge 39 rehabilitation project.

A contractor is expected to be hired as early as August, with all bridge repairs completed within 45 working days, Hollander said.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.