On April 1, 2008, the Board of Public Works voted not to include funding for a temporary bridge to be built in place while the old bridge is torn out and a new one built.  The main reason cited was financial, however, it was also mentioned that building a temporary bridge would disrupt the surrounding area too much.

Placing a bridge to the East, or right, of the existing bridge is not a possibility.  Lawton Park Skatepark is there and an approach would have to be placed too close to the Skatepark.  The western side is better, however, the approach would be problematic.  The only way to do it would be to divert Clinton Street down the old railroad right of way along the Blue OmniSource wall.  However, this makes the proposition even more costly as you’d have to remove the approach and diverted lanes once the new bridge was in place.  The only way I can see this working is if the new bridge is placed here instead.  The old bridge needs to come out completely.  The new design does not allow for piers – and that’s part of the purpose in building a new one anyway. 

So, the solution offered by IDOT and the City is to have multiple detours available and not build a temporary bridge. 

In today’s (April 11, 2008) Journal Gazette, a Letter to the Editor appeared:

Temporary bridge needed on Clinton

Not building a temporary bridge while the Clinton Street bridge is being replaced will be committing financial suicide for the downtown business district.

One million dollars is a bargain considering how economically disruptive the project will be.

We will have a new Harrison Square facility that will be difficult to get to and probably almost impossible to reach by people from out of town.

There will be about 9 million vehicles that will have to find alternate routes. What will be the budget impact of the additional wear-and-tear repair costs on alternate roads that were not designed for that traffic load, not to mention the additional fuel costs for commuters to meander through town looking for a way across the river or sitting in traffic with their engines running, not going anywhere?

Let’s not be penny wise and pound foolish on this one. There is too much at stake for the downtown revitalization and cost to commuters.

JOHN MORREALE – Fort Wayne

Well gee John, let’s just stop the Harrison Square project right now.  Call the contractors, tell them it’s gonna be a waste of time.  While we’re at it, let’s move everybody out of downtown because when Clinton Street closes, it’s all gonna go to hell in a handbasket anyway.

The problem with letters like this is that while it may echo similar sentiments in the community, it also in a sense “educates” them and gives them ammunition to be used against projects that will better our community.  I saw this time and time again with Harrison Square and I am almost positive you could look at any proposed public works project in this community’s history and you would find the same thing.

Let’s look at what got my goat about this post:

  • “Not building a temporary bridge while the Clinton Street bridge is being replaced will be committing financial suicide for the downtown business district.”

How do you figure this?  Last time I looked, downtown is not an island with the Clinton Street Bridge being the only way in and out.

  • “We will have a new Harrison Square facility that will be difficult to get to and probably almost impossible to reach by people from out of town.”

Hmmmm, is this assuming that everyone who comes to Harrison Square, and the downtown area for that matter, will all drive down Clinton to get there?  Even those coming from Ohio or Bluffton?  Last time I talked to friends from Indianapolis, they didn’t drive up to Coliseum Boulevard and then back down Clinton to get downtown – they come in on Jefferson Boulevard.  I will grant that the timing could better.

  • “There will be about 9 million vehicles that will have to find alternate routes.”

9 million?  Is that a day, week or month?  There aren’t even that many autos in the city.

  • What will be the budget impact of the additional wear-and-tear repair costs on alternate roads that were not designed for that traffic load, not to mention the additional fuel costs for commuters to meander through town looking for a way across the river or sitting in traffic with their engines running, not going anywhere?

Finally!  A point worth discussing.  Providing alternate detour routes means increased usage of roads that might otherwise not see it.  Is the City prepared for additional road repairs, especially if we have another winter of potholes like we just survived?  As far as additional fuel costs, well, let’s just say that this is still some time out.  People who insist on going through construction areas should expect to sit, wait and waste gas.  That’s why they always advise you to find an alternative route.

  • “There is too much at stake for the downtown revitalization and cost to commuters.”

Well, there is a lot riding on downtown revitalization, however, I would say that letting the existing bridge deteriorate even further because it might inconvenience some for a period of time is more dangerous.  Besides, when all is said and done, we’ll have a beautiful complimentary addition to downtown.

After reading this in the newspaper, imagine my surprise when I checked the Indiana News Center tonight to find the following story:

Clinton Street Bridge Issue May Be Re-Visited

There may be a shakeup coming on the Clinton Street Bridge project that will disrupt traffic flowing into downtown Fort Wayne from the north.

Indiana’s NewsCenter has learned Mayor Tom Henry’s administration favors re-visiting a decision not to build a temporary bridge next to the old bridge that is slated for replacement in 2010.

Jeff Neumeyer: ” The Clinton Street Bridge carries more than 26-thousand vehicles a day into downtown.

But the structure built in the 1960’s needs a major overhaul.

The Board of Public Works voted April 2nd against building a temporary bridge alongside, during the one full year that the main bridge will be closed for re-construction.

Transportation officials originally argued a temporary bridge would cost at least a million dollars, would encroach on ground in Headwaters Park, and that Wells Street and other alternate routes can handle any extra traffic load.

In a Letter to the Editor in Friday’s Journal Gazette, John Morreale said no temporary bridge would be a big mistake, that among other things, it would cripple access to downtown just as the Harrison Square Project comes on line.

Morreale is apparently not the only citizen upset about the course of action taken.

David Ross/Ft. Wayne City Engineer: ” We’ve been getting phone calls concerning routing traffic around downtown, um, the Mayor, of course, is very concerned, he’s very open to options, so yes, we will be exploring all that. It’s just the beginning. We’ll find the best solution for the community.”

John Morreale/Wants Temporary Bridge Built: ” I’m so glad that I have heard that they are looking at uh, re-visiting the issue andpossibly seeing if there is a way to fund that temporary bridge.”

Jeff Neumeyer: ” The good news, the Clinton Street Bridge project isn’t scheduled to be started until 2010, and on into 2011, meaning there is time to sort out where we go from here.”

Story on the Indiana News Center website with a video link

Now I’m no building or structures engineer, but a million dollar bridge doesn’t seem like it would be that much, especially for the distance it would have to traverse and the clean up after it was removed.  Don’t know if I’d care to drive on that bridge.  $1 M, might that get you perhaps one lane?  What good would this do?  Even going down to a temporary 2 lane bridge would cause problems.  Remember the back up last February during the flooding?  Sure it was down to 1 lane, but even at the times 2 lanes were open, it was still a mess.

Whatever the solution arrived at, people need to be prepared.  Even a temporary bridge with reduced capacity would create problems.  As Neumeyer said, the good news is the lead time for the project.  However, keep in mind that this project has been in the planning stages for years and needs to move forward before the cost becomes too prohibitive overall.  Stick with the original plan and let the public help out and find alternate routes.  Downtown will survive!  It’s not all doom and gloom.

[poll=3]

Previous AFW Martin Luther King Jr Memorial Bridge posts

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here