In Indiana, the Department of Transportation is reopening the northbound lanes of I-65 between Lebanon and Lafayette. Structural engineers noticed the riverbank pier settling and tilting, and ordered the Wildcat Creek bridge closed on Aug. 7, resulting in a nearly 60-mile detour.
I-65 is a major link between Indianapolis and Chicago, and the bridge normally handles about 16,000 cars and 8,000 trucks a day. It’s been closed for nearly a month and was due to be back open no sooner than Sept. 15. Indiana DOT announced this week that Walsh Construction Co. has completed repairs ahead of schedule and effectively immediately, the northbound lanes are load-tested and open.
Back in January, Indiana DOT awarded an $82.8 million design-build contract to Walsh Construction Company of Crown Point to widen and rehabilitate I-65 from State Road 38 to State Road 25 in Lafayette. Construction crews drove steel piles into nearby soils to widen the existing piers and sheet piling to work below the Wildcat Creek waterline. The piles pierced the water-tight soils to a sandy layer with water under pressure. Sand and/or water bubbled up from beneath the bridge pier, causing it to tilt.
Walsh Construction Co. stabilized the riverbank bridge pier with a process that has been used effectively with other bridges around the country. Indiana DOT, the Federal Highway Administration and engineering consultants reviewed the repair plans and inspected the construction to ensure the repairs were safe.
According to the DOT, Purdue University and contractor sensors will remain in place for regular monitoring of both the northbound and southbound bridges.
According to a DOT’s press release,Indiana DOT contractors and maintenance crews made the best of the unplanned I-65 northbound closure by performing additional work between Lebanon and Lafayette. Construction projects and lane closures that had been suspended on the alternate routes will resume within the next few days.
I-65 remains an active work zone as contractors widen and rehabilitate the interstate near Lafayette. Drivers should reduce their speed, allow extra following distance, and look twice before changing lanes in work zones.
Planned I-65 lane closures for construction will continue at night, when traffic is lighter, between State Road 38 (Exit 168) and State Road 25 (Exit 175). Drivers may use U.S. 52, State Road 28 and U.S. 231 as an alternate route to avoid the nighttime lane closures.
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