Bitter cold led to emergency repair of Franklin Street Bridge, scheduled to reopen in April

The bridge as it appears now with ice floes floating in the waterway …

… and the bridge on a lovely summer day in 2018.

Traffic is halted near the bridge.

Another view of the bridge under repair.

order now WNLP story and photos by Mike Kellems

The handsome and iconic bridge that spans Franklin Street in Michigan City is in its second week of emergency repairs and remains closed to vehicle and pedestrian traffic.

The historic Franklin Street Bridge, first opened in 1932, was found to be damaged around the middle of February. Officials believe the damage was due to the extreme cold that the area experienced earlier in the month. Due to the grating buckling and concrete crumbling, LaPorte County officials issued an emergency work order and closed the bridge. While inspecting the damage, other issues were discovered involving the gears that actually lift the bridge.

Michigan City Fire Chief Randy Novak, who also serves on the LaPorte County Council, was one of several who inspected the bridge when the damage was first discovered. An emergency declaration was made by the county commission president and county council president, which authorized the funding needed to quickly begin the repairs. While the Franklin Street Bridge is located within Michigan City’s city limits, bridges in LaPorte County are the responsibility of county government regardless of their location (the only exception being bridges on state roads, which fall under the jurisdiction of the Indiana Department of Transportation).

While this bridge is the main path leading to and from the city’s lakefront, there are alternate routes to reach the lakefront, including accessing Lake Shore Drive via Center Street, which runs north off U.S. 12 and is located across from the Blue Chip Casino.

Michigan City Zoo, which officially opens to the public on April 1, is among many businesses and attractions at the lakefront that are affected by the closure. Bartlett’s Fish Camps restaurant, the Old Lighthouse Museum, B&E Marine, Michigan City Senior Center and the National Guard Armory have all been impacted by the detour. Fortunately, the detour to reach the lake front is only a few minutes long.

County officials anticipate that the repairs will be completed and the bridge will reopen by the middle of April.

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