FORT WAYNE – One Allen County bridge was officially freed from weight restrictions Friday, but another had the amount it’s allowed to carry dramatically reduced.
The Anthony Boulevard bridge over the Maumee River has been closed since Sept. 13 while most of the structure was replaced. The new bridge is due to open Thursday.
On Friday, the Allen County commissioners lifted the weight limit that had been on the bridge for a year before it was closed entirely.
There are no longer any weight limits on it, said Mike Thornson, an engineer with the Allen County Highway Department.
The bridge was closed for several weeks in 2012 after a routine inspection found severe structural problems. It reopened with a lower weight limit of 12 tons and fewer lanes, but officials described the repairs as only temporary because the entire upper structure of the bridge needed to be replaced.
The 12-ton weight limit forced trucks and buses to go around, and in September 2013 it was closed entirely for the $2 million replacement project.
The previous span was built in the early 1970s as a temporary bridge after an iron truss bridge was removed. Officials considered raising the bridge to cross both the river and the railroad tracks, so the temporary bridge was put in while that was designed – but that project never happened, and four decades later the temporary bridge was at the end of its useful life.
Fortunately, the foundations and piers supporting the bridge were in good shape, so the deck was removed and the caps on top of the piers were reconstructed to accommodate modern, stronger support beams under the new deck.
The new bridge features a large pedestrian walkway separated from the street by a railing, which will provide better access to the Rivergreenway trail on the north side of the river.
We’re excited to get traffic going over it again, Thornson said. It’s worked out well.
The bridge over the Norfolk Southern railroad tracks on Edsall Avenue, however, is not faring well.
The structure, which connects the Memorial Park and Harvester Community neighborhoods on the city’s east side, already had a 12-ton weight limit.
On Friday, the county commissioners lowered that limit to 4 tons.
It’s really a neighborhood area, so it doesn’t get a lot of traffic anyway, Thornson said. And there’s another crossing two blocks west at Lumbard Street and another bridge on Coliseum five blocks east, so it shouldn’t cause too much trouble, but school buses and garbage trucks may need to be rerouted.
Thornson said the bridge will be scheduled for replacement, but was uncertain when that might happen.
It’s a safe bridge to drive on, as long as you don’t have a massive vehicle, he said.