The cause of the closure: the I-65 Wildcat Creek Bridge in Tippecanoe County. Photo: Indiana DOT via Facebook

The cause of the closure: the I-65 Wildcat Creek Bridge in Tippecanoe County. Photo: Indiana DOT via Facebook

Highway officials say the bridge on northbound Interstate 65 at Lafayette, Ind., will remain closed into mid September as contractors work to stabilize the structure.

Inspectors closed it almost two weeks ago when they noticed that steel spans supporting the roadway had sagged, then discovered that concrete piers had sunk about 9 inches into the bed of Wildcat Creek.

The southbound I-65 bridge over the creek is not affected and remains open, but is too narrow to safely accommodate two-way traffic, officials told local media. So northbound traffic must detour around a 37-mile stretch of the highway that's closed.

State and local sources are suggesting certain alternate routes, according to Carla Rose at the American Transportation Research Institute.

Indiana’s Department of Trransportation has set this official detour for northbound traffic: U.S. 52 north from I-65; then west on Indiana State Road 28, then north on U.S. 231 through Lafayette and back to I-65. (Or stay on U.S. 52 through Lafayette, then north on 231 to I-65.)

Other alternate routes are being recommended by Indianapolis and Lafayette media:

  • Traffic heading to Chicago can take Interstate 74 to Interstate 57 at Champaign, in east-central Illinois, then north to the city; or take I-74 west to U.S. 41, then straight north to Gary, and then into Chicago.
  • Traffic to Greater Lafayette from Indianapolis can take I-74 to Indiana 25 at Waynetown, then head to Lafayette’s south side.
  • For the east side of Lafayette, exit on Indiana 39 at Lebanon and head north to Indiana 28 at Frankfort, then west on to Mulberry/Jefferson Road. Follow that to Indiana 38 through Mulberry and into Lafayette.

Delays are adding at least an hour and probably more to a northbound trip, news reports said. Aside from congestion, detours add miles, and legal speeds on state and local roads are at least 10 mph slower. 

The long-term closure begun on Aug. 7 follows a previous 28-hour shutdown so steel supports could be installed to stabilize the bridge after unusual movement was observed Aug. 4, reports the Lafayette Journal & Courier.