"I lived here 15-20 years ago when the old bridge was here," Kehrer said. "This is a much bigger and better bridge." Crews expanded the sidewalks, replaced railings and added a tunnel.
At the Beech Road Bridge, it’s a different story. Rust is easy to spot and a dent can’t be ignored. The bridge is still considered “structurally deficient.” It was set to be replaced this year, but a lack of county funds delayed construction until next year.
County officials said the Beech Road Bridge is still safe and stable. County and state officials claim “structurally deficient” doesn’t mean unsafe.The Nimitz Parkway Bridge over U.S. 31 is set to be repaired next year. Indiana Department of Transportation officials say this bridge needs only “minor maintenance.” INDOT’s timetable to fix bridges has more to do with resources than funding.
State and county officials inspect bridges every two years.
The St. Joseph County Engineer is working to get federal money to fix or replace other bridges deemed “insufficient.” But just last year, the bridge repair budget was cut in half.
Of 17 bridges on the list last summer, five have been repaired or replaced and there is a plan in place for all these bridges to be repaired. But, we’re looking at 2016 until all the work is done.
Here’s a list of the 17 structurally deficient bridges in St. Joseph County:
Indiana Department Of Transportation jurisdiction
- S.R. 23 at Pine Creek … Replacement scheduled for 2014
- S.R. 23 at St. Joseph River … Replaced in 2010
- U.S. 31 at Nimtz Parkway … Repairs scheduled for 2013
- S.R. 933 at Baugo Creek … Replacement Scheduled for 2013
- S.R. 331 at Grimes Ditch … Replaced in 2011
- U.S. 20 at Clover Road … Replacement scheduled for 2015
- S.R. 331 at St. Joseph River … Maintenance not needed for another 15 years
St. Joseph County jurisdiction
- Walnut Road over Yellow Bank Creek … Trying to get federal money for repair
- Tyler Road over Yellow Bank Creek … Replacement scheduled for fall 2012
- Beech Road over U.S. 20 Bypass … Replacement scheduled for 2013
- Linden Road over Heston Creek … Replaced 2011
- Ironwood Drive over St. Joseph River … Trying to secure federal funding
- Mishawaka Avenue Bridge over St. Joseph River … Replaced 2011
- Underwood Road over Pine Creek … Delayed because of lack of funding
- Spruce Pine Creek Bridge … Replacement scheduled for 2012
- Goshen/Washington Street Bridge over Baugo Creek … Repaired 2010
- Walking Path over St. Joseph River at Darden Road … Determined acceptable for use
(Source: 2011 Report from The American Society of Civil Engineers)