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City by the, The Voice of Michigan City, Indiana _ City Talk _ Future of Frankln St Bridge in doubt

Posted by: Southsider2k12 Jan 25 2021, 03:23 PM

The historic Franklin Street drawbridge, which is the main entrance to the city’s lakefront, needs fixing again.

As a result, talk about whether to replace the almost 90-year old bridge above Trail Creek or keep pouring money into it has rekindled.

The next round of repairs, approved last week by the LaPorte County Council, involve mostly electrical upgrades and replacing worn gears, said LaPorte County Highway Engineer Jay Sullivan.

Sullivan said the upcoming fix has more to do with preventative maintenance so the bridge doesn’t start becoming stuck again.

“If it gets stuck, and as old as it is, it might be a couple of weeks before we get parts for it,” Sullivan said.

The bridge stuck down for an extended period means sailboats heading to and from Lake Michigan would be unable to pass underneath it.

Stuck in an open position, the bridge produces major traffic back-ups, especially during the summer, and forces motorists to use Center Street, a narrow, curvy street nestled in the dunes, to get to the beach and Washington Park Zoo.

Posted by: Southsider2k12 Apr 14 2021, 09:25 AM

Mrozinski and Councilman Mark Yagelski, D-Michigan City, are working together to explore options for the bridge.

“We really can’t modify the bridge,” Yagelski said, because it’s a historic bridge. “If the gears were built in 1920, they really want the same type of gear built in the 1920s.”

“We’re very lucky we’ve got the people there at Marquiss Electric” in Michigan City because they know the bridge well, Mrozinski said.

Over the years, ideas for replacing the bridge included a new drawbridge or even a tunnel under the river, Yagelski said.

Because of its placement, a fixed span bridge isn’t an option. The bridge has to allow tall ships to pass on their way to and from Lake Michigan, and the approaches to a fixed bridge would be too long to be feasible for that site.

“The boat traffic is going to be a priority here” because the bridge spans a navigable waterway, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers requires the bridge to be able to allow boats to pass between March 15 and Oct. 15. The county has a bridge tender on duty 24/7 to raise and lower the bridge as needed.

“I don’t believe we’re going to be able to build a new bridge,” Yagelski said.

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