MERRILLVILLE — A new bridge planned for 101st Avenue will accommodate more vehicles.
The Indiana Department of Transportation and Merrillville are collaborating to replace the bridge over Interstate 65, and the new structure will be expanded to four lanes from two when it's installed, Town Manager Bruce Spires said.
Councilman Shawn Pettit said replacing the bridge with a wider structure has been a priority for him. Creating two additional lanes on the bridge will help move more traffic through that area, he said.
“I'm very happy,” Pettit said.
The town and INDOT have discussed the bridge replacement for a long time. When initial plans were created, they called for the new bridge to be a two-lane structure.
Pettit made it clear to Spires he wanted a four-lane bridge, and he coordinated a meeting with INDOT to review the project.
Spires “worked some type of magic to get that thing done,” Pettit said.
Spires said it's estimated INDOT will pay about $2.4 million for the project. Merrillville's estimated contribution will be about $1.3 million, and the municipality will use tax increment financing district funds to cover its portion. Spires said those amounts include construction costs and engineering work.
Pettit said Merrillville will handle creating the approaches to the bridge, and that construction will occur next year. He said INDOT will start the bridge replacement work in 2019.
The upcoming work fits in with a long-term plan for Merrillville's southern end.
Last year, the town finished a major project to reconstruct and widen Mississippi Street to four lanes from 83rd Avenue to just south of 93rd Avenue.
Merrillville plans to widen Mississippi Street south of 93rd Avenue to 101st Avenue, but hasn't decided when that will begin. Rights-of-way already have been acquired for that project, and an application has been filed for federal funding to help pay for the work.
It's hoped the roadwork could retain and attract new business to Merrillville, officials said.