The Highland Park "Bicycle Bridge" in Lafayette (featured here) has been closed by the city after failing an inspection. Let's hope it can be repaired soon.
Highland Park Bicycle Bridge will close, awaits repairs
By JOE LARSON
Lafayette city officials plan to erect a fence closing Highland Park's Bicycle Bridge sometime today -- but the structure could reopen as early as next summer.
"We are going to get the bridge fixed," Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said.
More than 40 people gathered at city hall Wednesday evening to learn about the city's plans for the bridge, which was deemed unsafe after if failed a recent inspection.
Jenny Bonner, Lafayette city engineer, said bidding for the project will likely start this winter if financing can be secured. Under that scenario, construction would begin this spring and the bridge would reopen in late summer or early fall 2008.
"I'm disappointed that we won't be able to use the bridge till this spring," said neighborhood resident Frank Donaldson, "but if it's done right, we'll deal with it."
Roswarski said Tippecanoe County is looking into whether or not it can use its bridge fund to help repair the pedestrian bridge. He said the city will also apply for grants but will likely end up paying for at least part of the project itself.
The price of the project could vary greatly depending on which repairs the city chooses to pursue.
About 50 percent of the bottom of the bridge's through girders are in serious condition and have delamination, spalling and exposed reinforcing steel, according to the condition report done by H. Stewart Kline and Associates Inc.
That aspect of the bridge has to be repaired before it can reopen.
The city could also elect to pursue other, less serious repairs, such as fixing spalled parts of the bridge's railing and repairing delamination on the bridge's deck.
"If I can get enough money to do it completely, that would be great," Bonner said.
Residents at the meeting also expressed interest in adding drainage around the bridge, repairing the sidewalk that leads to it and even putting up signs to show it off to the wider community.
Neighborhood resident Connie Lux said at the meeting that she favors repairing the bridge and perhaps even turning the ravine it spans into a park.
"I would love to see the ravine in Highland Park, the diamond in the rough, turned into something beautiful for our children," she said.
But others feared developing the area too much beyond repairing the bridge might cause the wooded area to lose some of its appeal.
"I think the charm of the bridge is its discreet character," Donaldson said. "So I don't want to call a lot of attention to it."