- Associated Press - Friday, August 14, 2015

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (AP) - It will likely be mid-September before repairs are completed on an Interstate 65 bridge near Lafayette that was closed last week because of safety concerns, state highway officials said Friday.

The sinking of a pier for the bridge for northbound traffic over Wildcat Creek is being blamed on pile-driving work by a contractor widening I-65 to six lanes in the area that pierced an underground water feature and caused it to sink several inches.

“We are confident the issues are related to construction activities, and the remedy will provide a safe and long-term solution,” state highway Commissioner Brandye Hendrickson said in a statement.

The repair work will involve installing high-strength steel casings through the footers of the existing pier and deep into the soil, the department said. That is intended to stabilize the pier, which officials say tilted as part of it settled about nine inches.

Crews began pile driving work nearby on Aug. 3, and that might have contributed to bridge bearings falling out, which caused the first closure of the bridge the following day, officials said.

The bridge, which was originally built in 1968, was reopened Aug. 6 after new steel supports were installed, but engineers spotted movement in a pier along the riverbank and closed the span again the next day.

Anne Rearick, the agency’s bridges director, said this week the primary concern was that a significant dig would develop in the bridge about 50 miles northwest of Indianapolis.

The closure has caused lengthy delays for drivers on a 52-mile detour that follows state highways from near Lebanon and around the west side of Lafayette and West Lafayette to link back up with I-65 north of those cities.

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