By Stuart Hirsch
The Herald Bulletin
ANDERSON, Ind. —
Madison County officials are seeking a $15 million federal grant to replace the Eisenhower Bridge on Eighth Street that carries traffic across the White River.
Madison County Highway Engineer Chuck Leser told the Board of County Commissioners Tuesday that he will seek funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation for the bridge replacement project.
Federal funding is the only way the county can afford to replace the 44-year-old structure, Leser said.
The Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery, or TIGER Discretionary Grant program, was created under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to boost economic growth and jobs through construction spending.
Approximately $474 million is available under the program, according to the Department of Transportation.
“As with previous rounds of TIGER, funds for the (fiscal year) 2013 TIGER program are to be awarded on a competitive basis for projects that will have a significant impact on the nation, a metropolitan area or a region,” according to the program’s website.
The Eighth Street bridge, like every publicly maintained bridge in the country, is inspected every two years and given a rating from 0 to 100 called a sufficiency rating. A bridge with a rating below 80 is considered in need of repair and potentially eligible for federal funds.
In 2008 the Eighth Street bridge’s rating was 78.
In the 2010 Statewide Bridge Sufficiency Rating Report compiled by Purdue University, however, that rating dropped nearly 20 points to 58.1.
While the bridge is not dangerous to drive on, Leser said inspections show that support beams are cracking, the bridge’s superstructure is deteriorating, and the road deck needs replacement.
“We’re looking at $18 million in cost to replace, and about $12 million total just to repair it, and then it’s for just 20 years,” he said. “Basically, it’s more economical to replace the bridge than to repair it,” because a new bridge will last longer.
The county’s local match for construction would be about $4 million, $1 million of which would come from the Anderson Metropolitan Planning Organization.
The TIGER grant program is highly competitive, however, so there’s no guarantee of funding; the county’s application for funds has been rejected four times before.
However, Leser said he’s been told the project is moving to the top of the Indiana list.
Despite the uncertainty, Leser said he wants to begin conducting an environmental study, which will cost approximately $100,000.
According to preliminary designs, a new structure won’t be so highly arched, which will be better for winter.
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