Back and Blue
Stretching across the Wabash River in Miami County, County Bridge #159 provides a picturesque gateway to Peru. Built in 1939, the 600-foot-long steel truss bridge is one of the longest of its kind in Indiana. More than 30 years since its last major repair, the wear and tear of carrying nearly 12,000 cars per day began to take a toll on the historic bridge.
Now known as the Kelly Avenue Bridge, the span was categorized as a “select” bridge in 2007 during an inventory conducted by the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) to identify historic bridges that should be prioritized for preservation.
The bridge had been on Miami County Highway Engineer Ken Einselen’s “to do” list for a number of years when he began seeking funds for its restoration in 2013. “We felt an obligation to be good guardians of the structure,” he says. “We waited a number of years to have enough funds to do the quality restoration that this bridge deserves.”
In May of this year, the bridge closed for an extensive renovation overseen by DLZ Engineering of Indianapolis. Most of the structural work will be hardly noticeable to casual observers, but one change stands out: the span’s former green paint has been replaced by a new shade of light blue – the standard color used by INDOT. To update the paint, the structure had to be tented to capture any possible lead paint debris so that it didn’t fall into the waterway. All bare steel was coated with zinc primer and topped by durable vinyl overcoat.
Federal funds covered 80 percent of the approximately $2 million rehab; county funds paid for the remainder. The bridge reopened in mid-October, about a month ahead of schedule. “After this work, we believe this historic structure will safely serve at least another generation of car traffic,” says Einselen.
For more information, contact Paul Hayden, director of Indiana Landmarks Northeast Field Office at firstname.lastname@example.org or 260-563-7094.
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