- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 19, 2014

PORTAGE, Ind. (AP) - An executive with one of the companies working to replace a demolished major bridge in northwestern Indiana says construction of a replacement is expected to begin later this year, even though work on raising up to $250 million for the project is incomplete.

American Structurepoint Vice President Christopher Murphy said design, survey and other preliminary activities are moving forward at the site of the former Cline Avenue Bridge over the Indiana Harbor Ship Canal in East Chicago, The Times of Munster reported (http://bit.ly/1ehXugF ).

“We are making progress toward building the replacement structure,” Murphy told a Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission committee meeting in Portage on Tuesday.

When construction on the new bridge would begin has been in question since state inspectors closed the previous 26-year-old span in 2009 for safety reasons. Its demolition was finished early last year.

The new bridge will have a similar design to the former structure. However, Murphy said big improvements in technology mean the replacement bridge will have an expected 100-year lifespan. The new bridge also will be all-electronically tolled, so it won’t have toll booths, Murphy said. The expected toll for cars will be between $2.25 and $3.25.

State officials turned to the toll bridge idea because of the estimated cost to replace the 1.2-mile bridge on the route to East Chicago’s Ameristar Casino and steel mills along Lake Michigan.

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Information from: The Times, http://www.thetimesonline.com