U.S. 27 bridge closing for demolition, replacement

If your journeys through Richmond cross the U.S. 27 bridge in the Depot District, it’s time to find a new route.

The Indiana Department of Transportation plans to close the bridge April 3, or shortly thereafter, to begin a $12.8 million bridge-replacement project five years in the planning. The specific closing information was provided March 20 during a public meeting at New Boswell, then repeated later that night when an INDOT representative addressed Richmond Common Council.

The new bridge is expected to open for traffic during fall 2024. Project completion is scheduled for summer 2025.

“There’s a lot of businesses, a lot of interested parties here tonight that have a lot riding on this project,” Nathan Riggs, an INDOT project manager, said to about 70 people who attended the public meeting. “We don’t minimize that. The next two years are going to be interesting; it’s going to be difficult for some of you. The end result is what we’re shooting for.”

U.S. 27 will close between North D and North G streets, and Fort Wayne Avenue will be closed between North Eighth and North F streets throughout bridge demolition and construction. That section of Fort Wayne Avenue north of the Norfolk Southern Railroad tracks was originally expected to remain open. Riggs said closing that roadway will increase safety and improve the project’s efficiency by providing the contractor extra space.

Beaty Construction, the project’s Shelbyville-based contractor, is working with Mosey Manufacturing and Rumpke Waste & Recycling to maintain the necessary access to their facilities.

The project’s official detour, which will have signage throughout, uses Interstate 70 and U.S. 40, creating a wide loop; however, that’s because INDOT is not permitted to route official detours on local roads. The city is permitted to create local detours, said Robert Gill, another INDOT project manager, when addressing Common Council. For example, southbound traffic could be directed to take North J Street to North 12th Street, then to travel North A Street back to U.S. 27.

INDOT map of routes affected by the closure

Locals, though, won’t need directions.

“Obviously in this kind of a job, there is not going to be one local detour,” Gill said. “We fully anticipate people will be taking 100 different streets to get around this.”

After the bridge closes, Gill said he would work with Richmond Police Department to analyze which roads drivers are using and to manage the traffic flow with additional signage. For example, Gill, who lives in Richmond, said that tractor-trailers would not be wanted traveling Waterfall Road.

Mayor Dave Snow assured council that Richmond Police and Richmond Fire departments have been preparing for the bridge closure.

“Our police and fire departments started on the routing of this some time ago,” he said. “They’ve been prepared for awhile, and I just want our citizens to have comfort that it won’t cause disruption to our emergency services.”

Riggs said weather deterioration and collision damage requires the bridge replacement.

“With assets like bridges, they get to a certain point where it’s not cost-effective to rehabilitate them any longer,” he said. “It just gets to a point you need to build a new bridge. It’s going to be cheaper and it’s going to get longer life out of that project than if we rehab it one more time.”

The new bridge addresses safety issues by removing bridge piers from city streets and creating an Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant sidewalk on the west side.

According to the plans shown March 20, the block of North F Street between Fort Wayne Avenue and North Eighth Street that passes beneath the bridge will be permanently closed when the new bridge is completed. In addition, the city plans to convert the one-block North Ninth Street segment between North E Street and Elm Place that’s also under the bridge into a pedestrian-only plaza.

Project information is available online at https://www.in.gov/indot/about-indot/central-office/welcome-to-the-greenfield-district/us-27-bridge-replacement-project-in-richmond/.

Share this:

A version of this article appeared in the March 29 2023 print edition of the Western Wayne News.

Mike Emery is a reporter and layout editor for the Western Wayne News.