CLINTON, Ind. (WTHI) - Shutting down the State Road 163 Bridge was a possibility no one hoped to ever hear.
"Having that bridge closed was going to create a very large risk to both sides of the river for public safety," said Chris Strohm.
The bridge connects Vermillion County to Parke and Vigo counties.
It's a vital piece of travel for residents like Strohm, but as Clinton's Fire Chief, it's also a lifeline in some cases.
"We rely on Parke County assets to come over and help us with large emergencies just like they rely on us to help them when needed," he said.
Strohm and residents will no longer have to worry about the what ifs regarding the bridge's closure. That's after Wednesday's public hearing at Central Elementary, hosted by Indiana Department of Transportation.
"We heard loud and clear from a lot of people that they wanted to keep the bridge open," said Debbie Calder, INDOT Crawfordsville District.
Earlier in the year, a meeting was held to introduce the 163 project, as well as discuss potential options and hear concerns. Calder says they took away a lot of stories and insight from residents regarding the need to keep the bridge open during renovations.
That's why INDOT decided to keep one lane open at each time with stoplights at each end. Calder says crews will be widening the bridge, as well as adding a new deck.
"The bridge deck is nearing the end of its life cycle," she said, "So we do need to get out there, and take care of it, and that's exactly what we're going to do with this project. It should be good for years to come."
While many recognize the inconvenience construction brings, residents are looking forward to the end goal.
"They said the new construction will be good 25 to 30 years," said Strohm, "Hopefully this won't be anything that we have to worry about for a long time to come, and when those days come hopefully they'll have some better technology that will be able to minimize the traffic habits and delays even further."
"As soon as it's done and open it's going to be a great site," said Clinton Police Chief Billy Maclaren, "All the traffic is going to be back to regular flow, and it's going to be nice to get it back to its regular pattern."
Following Wednesday's meeting, many left satisified knowing their opinions were taken into consideration.
"It's great that they were listening to the public," Maclaren said, "The fact that they will allow us to give input to keep it flowing, but give us the options to help out and everything."
"It's nice to see that when you do go to these meetings that it's not just a formality," Strohm said, "They do actually listen to you and a voice does make a difference."
Calder says INDOT hopes to have the project completed by 2019. In the meantime, they're still taking comments and concerns from the public for two weeks by postage or email.
You can mail your comments to the following address:
INDOT Office of Public Involvement
100 North Senate Avenue, Room N642
Indianapolis, IN 46204
You can also email comments to: firstname.lastname@example.org