The opening of the new Eisenhower Bridge, carrying Eighth Street across the White River in Anderson, is a lesson in the value of determination.
After seven failed attempts in recent years to obtain federal money for the project, the county struck gold in 2016 when it secured a TIGER (Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery) grant for $13.5 million.
Work to replace the bridge began in November 2017. About 19 months later, the bridge is finished — and finished on time and under budget.
To be precise, $2.5 million under the estimated $18 million cost of the project. That means the county’s share of costs will shrink from $4.5 million to about $3.1 million.
The new Eisenhower Bridge is 6 feet lower than the original structure, which was built at a cost of $7 million (in today's dollars) and opened in 1969. The new bridge is 10 feet wider than the original and has river overlooks.
And it's safer for traffic, too. A center divider separates eastbound and westbound lanes, and pedestrian walkways on both sides offer space for walkers and bicyclists. Like the old bridge, the new one has four lanes.
It's great to see cars passing over the bridge unencumbered by lane closures, caution signs and traffic barriers.
Most importantly, the new bridge doesn't have the structural problems of the old one. You can feel how solid it is under your tires.
Of course, there could be flaws in the new Eisenhower Bridge that aren't apparent to the eye — or the car tire.
In February, a new joint on the westbound lanes had to be replaced at a cost of $120,000.
It's imperative that officials monitor the structure frequently as the weeks, years and months pass.
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