County Engineer says he doesn’t see a ‘quick fix’ for McDaniel Road closure

WTHI Photo, Lacey Clifton
WTHI Photo, Lacey Clifton

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) – On Monday evening the Vigo County Sheriff’s Office reported  McDaniel Road would be closed at the overpass due to structural concerns.

The order came from the County Highway Department who reported McDaniel Road south of Springhill Drive to Gross Drive would be closed as well as  State Road 641 east of U.S. Highway 41.

When our crew went out to the area Tuesday morning they could see where part of the retaining wall of the overpass had collapsed. The Vigo County Engineer, Jerry Netherlain, explained that this allowed the ‘back fill’ or what appears to be sand, to flow out.

 

Netherlain stated the county will proceed as fast as possible to fix the problem while also protecting public safety.  He explained there’s still a lot of info to gather to determine what options are available. But, he doesn’t see this being a “quick fix.”

At this time, questions or concerns should be directed to the Vigo County Engineering Department at (812) 232-5823.

News 10’s Lacey Clifton spoke with Vigo County Engineer Jerry Netherlain about the closure.

He says, “Usually at this time of year when our crews are out on emergency situations, it is snow removal. Usually not something like this.”

From far away, the issue is easy to overlook. But up close, you’ll see part of a wall underneath the overpass has fallen down.

A closer look at the damage underneath the McDaniel Road Overpass. For scale, notice the person in the bright-colored vest inspecting the bridge. (WTHI Photo, Tony Kassissieh)
A closer look at the damage underneath the McDaniel Road Overpass. For scale, notice the person in the bright-colored vest inspecting the bridge. (WTHI Photo, Tony Kassissieh)

 

Netherlain says the bridge itself is fine. But, he and bridge inspectors are worried about the road leading up to the overpass.

The engineer says, “What we’re concerned about is the fill under the approach settling and the approach is starting to settle. And hopefully that would happen gradually but you just never know, so we just have to keep traffic off of it.”

This means the “fill” or ground supporting the road leading up to the overpass could spread out or weaken. If that “fill” is not packed in tight, it can settle, and compromise the integrity of the road.

Netherlain says several agencies are inspecting the bridge, and they’re taking a careful look at the side of the bridge that is still in-tact too.

He says, “We were looking at the other side just to see any sort of movement that we could possibly see, and like you said, there are a panel or two that have moved a little bit, but it doesn’t look like we have anywhere near like what we have on the other side.”

Netherlain says that a little bit of movement with this type of structure is expected.

He adds, “It probably won’t be an easy fix. So we just have to take it one step at a time and I know it’s an inconvenience to the public and people are getting used to using that bypass but the safety of the people travelling has to be first in priority.”

He says once the inspections wrap up, crews can come up with a plan for fixing the overpass.

Then, they’ll decide if or when to open part of the closed road.

Netherlain says INDOT could choose to open 641 back up if they label that drivers can only go South off the ramp.

Although, an option like that, or opening a few lanes of McDaniel road still need to be discussed with the inspection companies.

Netherlain told News 10 that several inspectors have checked out the overpass.

He says INDOT will likely be involved in the fix too.

The engineer says the overpass was a county project.

But, he says it was built as a federal aid project.

Netherlain says the contract was with INDOT and the contractors were working for INDOT, and not the county.

The engineer says there isn’t a set date for how long the closure will be in place.

However, he says it will be more than a few days.

News 10 will continue to follow this story.