September 16, 2019 - A neighborhood commitment has been achieved. After a four-year closure, the bridge on Edsall Avenue is open. This afternoon, Mayor Tom Henry joined neighborhood leaders, students, businesses, City and County council members, and city staff to cut the ribbon and officially open the bridge.
"Investing in bridges is a top priority as we make necessary improvements to our transportation network," said Mayor Henry. "Preserving and maintaining our bridges demonstrates our ongoing commitment to meeting the needs of the public. Making infrastructure enhancements positions our community for current and future growth and success."
The Allen County Highway Department closed the bridge in 2015. In 2017, the City of Fort Wayne assumed maintenance duties of the bridges in city limits, and the bridge on Edsall Avenue became a top priority for replacement. Since 2017, the City has completed three bridge reconstructions with this being the first tracked from design to completion.
"We are pleased to open this neighborhood bridge. These enhancements improve traffic flow and add safety features that will serve the community for decades to come," said Shan Gunawardena, Director of the Public Works Division. "The new bridge has wider sidewalks with improved hand railing, a concrete barricade separating pedestrians from the roadway, and bridge lighting where there was none before."
Nearby residents, businesses, churches and schools were anxiously awaiting the completion of the bridge. Nearly 1,700 residents, along with 101 businesses and 10 churches are located within a half-mile of the Edsall bridge. For students at Adams Elementary, the completion means safe crossing from the Memorial Park neighborhood located on the north side of the bridge.
"The closure created a challenge for our school family and students. We have many students that used the bridge to get to school from neighborhoods north of the railroad tracks," said Allison Holland, Principal, Adams Elementary. "The new bridge makes getting to and from school easier, and we appreciate the safety features of a barrier protecting walkers from cars and trucks."
"Opening the bridge certainly makes travel easier, but it also improves safety for our neighborhoods. The protected sidewalk makes it safer for students, and the bridge over the railroad tracks gives the neighborhood peace-of-mind that emergency vehicles now have a more direct route to our homes," said Ruby Bates, President of the Eastside Neighborhood. "We're thrilled to have the bridge open again."
The camber-shaped concrete bridge design came from Butler Fairman & Seufert Inc. and was constructed by bridge specialists, ICC. Before the bridge closed, an estimated 3,000 vehicles traveled the bridge each day.