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Explosives bring end to Cline Avenue bridge

EAST CHICAGO, Ind. – The Cline Avenue Bridge has met its end.

On Tuesday, the last chunk of the bridge was dropped by explosives, marking the end of the bridge that first opened to traffic in 1983.

The last span to be dropped was on the west bank of the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal. Indiana Department of Transportation officials had thought the job would be done by the end of last year, but bad weather delayed the finale, INDOT spokesman Jim Pinkerton told The Times in Munster (http://bit.ly/13kSRel).

It was just more than three years ago that the 1.2-mile span was condemned, after being closed on an emergency basis in November 2009 when parts of it were found to be gravely weakened.

In addition to the community’s desire to see the demolition finished, completion of the job also is required before the state can turn over the bridge right of way to a private company that wants to build a toll bridge there.

Under an August agreement between INDOT and United Bridge Partners, of Tallahassee, Fla., the land swap that will give the company possession of the bridge right of way cannot happen until the demolition is complete.

A date will be set for the land swap following the completion of cleanup work and demobilization of contractor Walsh Construction Co. from the property, said INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield.

United Bridge Partners continues to work behind the scenes on design and permitting for a new Cline Avenue Bridge, Wingfield said.

Walsh Construction Co., of Crown Point, won the $8.9 million contract to demolish the bridge. Work on bringing it down has been in full swing through the spring and summer months, including several explosive demolitions.

Residents of some nearby neighborhoods have complained of the noise of both the hydraulic jackhammers and explosives used to demolish the bridge.

The Cline Avenue Bridge has had a troubled history, with 14 construction workers killed during a collapse as the bridge was being built.

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