Work begins on Tippecanoe Co. historical bridge replacement

WLFI File Photo

TIPPECANOE COUNTY, Ind. (WLFI) — A plan to replace a historical bridge over the Wildcat Creek in Tippecanoe County could slow commute times for drivers. It’s all due to a multimillion-dollar project on State Road 26 East. News 18 takes a look at the plan and details what drivers could see in the coming months.

Crews have started clearing brush and trees around the bridge over the Wildcat Creek. Rather than restore the 76-year-old structure, it’s being completely rebuilt.

But getting to that point could cause some frustration for those who use the roadway for daily travel.

“Unfortunately, road construction is a necessary evil. It has to happen for progress to go on,” said Tippecanoe County resident Sarah Brown.

That necessary evil is a $4.7 million project on State Road 26 East, near Monitor.

The bridge, built in 1941, was in need of replacement, according to the Indiana Department of Transportation.

“What’s the alternative? I mean, eventually they’re either going to have to restore it, or they’re going to have to rebuild the whole thing or there’s going to have to be another route around it somehow,” Tippecanoe County resident Dan Ashcraft said.

For the time being, traffic will be restricted by flag-persons as they build a new lane beside the existing structure. That lane will eventually join three other new lanes, becoming a four-lane bridge.

While it may be an inconvenience, Brown feels safer knowing the bridge she often uses will be structurally sound.

“I think they did the best they could do with the given situation,” Brown said. “Do we like it? No, but it has to happen.”

The second phase of the project will shut down the existing bridge, redirecting traffic along the newly built road. Signals will be in place until the new bridge is complete.

Tippecanoe County resident Tom Smith said, “It’s going to be an obstacle for a lot of people. It’s going to cause a lot of traffic problems and possible accidents.”

Project manager Travis Kohl said restrictions could begin as soon as late fall. He said drivers should give themselves plenty of time.

Brown said she’s taking that advice.

“If you’re going to drive, you’re going to have construction,” Brown said. “Just be patient and deal with it.”

The new bridge will have four lanes and two 10-foot shoulders.

Work is expected to be finished in about 15 months.