CLINTON, Ind. (WTHI) - A major connecting point between Parke and Vermillion counties is the topic of discussion again.
Many community members voiced concerns over the Indiana Department of Transportation's initial plan to close the 163 Bridge entirely for repair work. Luckily, INDOT listened. The Department now plans to keep a lane open during construction.
Dr. Frank Swaim has been practicing for 54 years, 45 of them at the Clinton Medical Clinic. To get to the clinic, Swaim travels the 163 Bridge regularly. He’s just like thousands of others.
Swaim says, "I live in Parke County, but I come to the hospital, or come to my office here in Clinton at least four, four days a week. So I use the bridge at least four days a week if not five, and it's very important for all people in this area, there is a lot of traffic on that bridge."
The Indiana Department of Transportation will host a meeting about the bridge's repair Wednesday night to gather public comment. While Swaim himself can't attend, he's glad the opportunity to speak out is available.
He says, "I think everybody needs to be heard, this is extremely important for the people in Clinton, the people in Parke County, to make sure INDOT gets the message."
Many residents say they’re glad the bridge repair will only take things down to one lane instead of closing the bridge entirely. Reasons for their excitement fall under the categories of daycare, school, medical accesibility, daily commute, or in Dr. Swaim’s case, his concern for his patients making it to the clinic.
Swaim says, "Half of them at least I'd say. My patients, come from across the river."
As for the sake of the community, Swaim says he's glad INDOT is putting in so much effort into this project.
Swaim says, "That bridge has got to be repaired, it's got to be functional, it's got to be safe. So we all understand it's got to happen."
Clinton Mayor Jack Gilfoy tells News 10 some topics of discussion at the meeting will include the closure of Walnut and South Main Street during the bridge repair. The mayor also says he'll propose a four-way stop at Main and Elm Streets. That’s so traffic can keep moving in that area.
The public hearing is Wednesday night at Central Elementary school in Clinton. The doors open at 5:30, and the presentation starts at 6 p.m.
Debbie Calder with INDOT says the Department hopes to start construction in March of 2019, and finish it in October of 2019. She says that timeline is dependent on the migratory birds called Cliff Swallows. Additionally, she says there'd be bridge restrictions for painting in the Spring of 2020.