By KEVIN NEVERS
One flood, two years of government permitting, and an absolutely ginormous
crane later, Coffee Creek Park has a new foot bridge over the stream.
On Wednesday morning, the old bridge—battered and broken by the flood waters
of September 2008—was lifted off and a brand new, and very attractive,
bridge lifted gently into place onto freshly poured concrete supports.
The star of the show, however, was the 175-ton crane provided by
subcontractor Stevenson’s Crane Service Inc. of Illinois. A crane of that
size was needed, in fact, so that it could be staged far enough from the
site so as not to damage the wetland areas of Coffee Creek Park, Chesterton
Town Engineer Mark O’Dell told the Chesterton Tribune.
How big was the crane? When fully extended it was visible from a mile
away—at least as far as the Chesterton town hall—piercing the sky over the
Downtown business district.
The new bridge itself—gently arched—weighs 8,900 pounds and at 45 feet is 20
feet longer than the old one, extending well into Coffee Creek’s banks “to
get it out of the water’s way,” O’Dell said.
The bridge—designed by Contech Construction Products Inc. of West Chester,
Ohio—basically “matches the Prairie Duneland Trail bridge over Ind. 149,
which is what we were looking for,” Park Superintendent Bruce Mathias said.
“It looks nice. And it’s virtually indestructible.”
Mathias noted that, making the old bridge’s beating that much easier during
the floods, was the fact that the bank around its concrete supports—“embunkments,”
technically—had begun significantly to erode.
On hand for the operation—lasting around an hour—was Park Board Member
Vincent Emanuele, who was impressed by the ease with which the old bridge
was removed and the new one installed. “That went pretty smooth,” he said.
Meanwhile, general contractor Gariup Construction Company Inc. of Gary
continues work on repairing the boardwalk in Coffee Creek Park, which also
took a hit during the floods. That work has been proceeding for a few weeks
now and should be complete in two more, O’Dell said.
The main reason it’s taken two years and change to get the boardwalk fixed
and bridge replaced, O’Dell added, is that both the Indiana Department of
Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers had to approve the
construction plans, as the site is a designated wetland.
Total cost of the project: $223,900, 75 percent of which has been funded by
the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The balance is being defrayed with