Engineers are expected to spend three days inspecting the New Harmony bridge to determine if the long-closed structure can be safely reopened. Inspectors with the engineering firm of Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. (WJE) of Northbrook, Illinois and Indianapolis, Indiana are in the process of conducting an in-depth study of the bridge to determine the structural integrity, safety, design and construction options for the rehabilitation and potential reopening of the historic bridge.
As part of the inspection, WJE will climb the bridge trusses to evaluate primary truss members, inspect the Illinois and Indiana approach spans from beneath the bridge using a boom lift, inspect the concrete piers, steel bents and other structural members from beneath the bridge and perform drone operations to take photos of various areas of the bridge and bridge deck. Previously, WJE conducted preliminary load ratings through an in-house evaluation in the firm's Northbrook offices.
Linda Henning, a member of the Illinois New Harmony River Bridge Authority says that the objective of the current phase of inspection and evaluation is to determine if the bridge is structurally sound and can be refurbished and, if so, a second phase of evaluation will be carried out. WJE is expected to conduct the second phase inspection in August which will include a more extensive evaluation of bridge sections that are in need of repair or replacement and to explore design options and construction costs.
Engineers from WJE were selected to do the inspection by officials with the Illinois New Harmony River Bridge Authority and the Indiana New Harmony and Wabash River Authority.
For the rest of the story, check out this week's Chronicle.