July 14, 2021 - Today, Mayor Tom Henry joined residents and area business owners, along with the City’s Public Works Division, for a ribbon cutting ceremony to celebrate the completion of the Van Buren Street Bridge Improvement Project. The project investment of $2.5 million included the super structure replacement of the bridge, scour protection, a trail running from the bridge south to Superior Street, wider sidewalks and decorative railing and lighting. Primco, Inc. was the primary contractor for the work.
The bridge was originally built in 1934 and reconstructed in 1994. It had a load limit of 17 tons, giving it a rating of 5 out of 10. The improvement project was necessary to prevent full closure of the river crossing because the pre-stressed concrete box beams were cracking.
The City of Fort Wayne oversees 96 bridges. Capital or larger-scale projects, like the Van Buren Street Bridge Project, are bid out and performed by contractors. The Public Works Division has an in-house team made up of 3 – 5 full and part-time staff to perform the maintenance work necessary to extend the life of bridges. Maintenance work includes bridge deck sealing to combat damage that results from the cycle of water freezing and thawing, and the use of salt. The maintenance team also removes foliage around bridges to help the decks dry quicker, which reduces wear and tear.
“We continue to make important investments in local infrastructure and it’s making a positive difference,” said Mayor Henry. “It’s vital for us to be proactive and innovative as we work to enhance our transportation system for residents and businesses. The work we’re doing positions Fort Wayne as a leader in providing excellent services that will result in an enhanced quality of life and additional business and job opportunities.”
“Having an in-house team to maintain bridges is more efficient and faster. We save money, time and resources,” said Public Works Director Shan Gunawardena. “The Public Works Division is committed to protecting motorists, being good stewards of taxpayer dollars and investing in our infrastructure to extend the life of bridges.”
The Public Works Division monitors bridges monthly. Full inspections take place every 2 years, but if issues are noted, that particular bridge is inspected every year.
The City of Fort Wayne assumed direct bridge repair and maintenance responsibilities from Allen County in 2017 to provide the City more flexibility and direction on when and how to invest in bridge projects that will have the most benefit.