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INDOT: Artesian Spring, Road Work Led To Bridge Failure

Charlotte Tuggle

Indiana Department of Transportation officials now say two main factors led to last week’s failure of an I-65 bridge in Tippecanoe County: an artesian well under the bridge piers and the construction going on to expand the bridge at the time the pier sank into the ground.

INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield says work done between the re-opening of the bridge last Wednesday and its second closure Friday may have led to the structure’s failure.

“They [bridge contractor Walsh Construction] were in the area because they were working on the bridge. We expect there’s a combination of factors that will be what caused the settlement of the piers. The construction is one of those factors,” Wingfield says.

INDOT Commissioner Brandye Hendrickson says weekend testing on the soil beneath the bridge hasn’t yielded any conclusions. In fact, it’s led to a request for more testing – which she says will keep the bridge closed for an undetermined number of days.

“So as we’re early in the evaluation process and the analysis of the geotechnical data, we would hesitate to give any kind of timeline at this time,” Hendrickson says.

Detours remain in place between Lebanon and I-65 in White County for traffic traveling north of the Greater Lafayette area. However, SR 52 is open through Lafayette. Likewise, interstate entrances north of the bridge, at State Roads 25 and 43, remain open in Tippecanoe County.

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