Commissioners re-open proposal to rehab Rangeline Road bridge

The Huntington County Commissioners re-opened a proposal to rehabilitate the Rangeline Road Bridge over the Wabash River at the commissioners' meeting on Monday, Oct. 26.

The crossing had been a topic of discussion over the past two decades in various county commission administrations, but was tabled each time.

The bridge is regarded as a historic structure and therefore cannot be demolished, but two ideas as to what to do with the structure have received the most attention. One is to make the existing bridge a pedestrian crossing to tie in with the city of Huntington's Lime City Trail, and then build a new bridge for vehicular traffic. The other option is to rehabilitate the bridge so that the weight limit can be increased to handle heavier loads and reinforce the structural integrity of the bridge.

"We have to do something," Commissioner President Tom Wall said. "We have residents and two businesses across the river that depend on the bridge."

The commissioners agreed to pursue the second option, to rehabilitate the existing structure, in light of cost.

"Rehabilitating the existing bridge wouldn't cost as much as replacing the bridge," said Kenny Minett, of Butler, Forman & Seufert Civil Engineering.

"It's the only alternative to re-doing the entire bridge," said Troy Hostetler, superintendent of the Huntington County Highway Department.

Huntington County has $1.4 million in state funding already that can be used toward engineering, inspections and construction on the existing bridge, Hostetler said. The funds have accrued over 20 years from prior applications to fix the bridge.

The next step in rehabilitating the bridge is to complete a structural analysis of the bridge and have the project approved by INDOT.

David Armstrong of the Indiana Department of Transportation's Fort Wayne District, said that once additional funding is approved and inspections have been completed, construction could start as early as 2011.