Map of northwest Indiana with open portions of SR 912 in red, closed portion in grey
|Maintained by INDOT|
|Length||11.69 mi (18.81 km)|
|West end||I-90 / Indiana Toll Road in Hammond|
|South end||Ridge Road in Griffith|
State Road 912 (SR 912), known along its entire length as Cline Avenue, is a freeway north of the combined Interstate 80/I-94/U.S. Route 6 (I-80/I-94/US 6, Borman Expressway), and a local access road serving Griffith south of the Borman. The portion of Cline Avenue marked as SR 912 is 11.69 miles (18.81 km) long.
On April 15, 1982, part of a ramp under construction collapsed during concrete pouring operations near the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal, killing fourteen highway workers and injuring eighteen more. In 1987, the state designated the route between US 12 and the Indiana Toll Road as the Highway Construction Workers Memorial Highway.
On December 28, 2009, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) closed the elevated bridge portion of Cline Avenue between Calumet and Michigan avenues, a distance of nearly 3.5 miles (5.6 km). Corrosion had severely weakened most elements of the bridge, including the bridge piers, concrete, beams and cables. The bridge has been torn down and will be replaced with a toll crossing. Similar cases of corrosion have been identified in other bridges across the country.
The freeway runs east from exit 3 of the Indiana Toll Road past the Gary/Chicago International Airport, and then south, also having an interchange with Toll Road exit 10. This portion also serves several of the steel mills (many now owned by ArcelorMittal) and casinos in East Chicago and Gary, Indiana. The north–south portion between approximately US 20 and the Borman Expressway follows the border between Gary and Hammond, Indiana.
South of the Borman Expressway, Cline Avenue becomes a four-lane divided highway. SR 912 extends south 1 mile (1.6 km) to Ridge Road (Business US 6).
Before the construction of the expressway, portions of Truck Route 912 were on Kennedy Avenue. Some 5.7 miles (9.2 km) of new freeway from the Toll Road to Chicago Avenue was constructed at a cost of $250 million (1982, $551 million in 2008). Most of the expressway portion followed the path of the former Pennsylvania Railroad main line from Chicago to Pittsburgh via Fort Wayne, rationalized by Conrail onto the parallel former New York Central main line.
On April 15, 1982, 14 workers were killed and 18 injured when falsework beneath a ramp failed during a concrete pour. At 10:40 a.m., Unit 4 (one of the bridge sections), collapsed, destroying the scaffold stairway and stranding workers on the remaining sections above. Workers on Unit 4 were crushed to death when the section flipped and landed upside-down while descending due to tension in the cables.
Surviving construction workers brought in a cherry picker to rescue the remaining workers stranded on the ramp, but five minutes after the initial collapse, Unit 5, the neighboring section, also collapsed. Twelve workers in total were killed instantly; a 13th died two weeks after the collapse, and the 14th worker died of injuries suffered during the collapse two years later. The accident remains Indiana's deadliest industrial or construction accident.
Investigators from the National Bureau of Standards for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) discovered several errors that caused the collapse of the bridge section. The most likely cause of the collapse was "the cracking of a concrete pad supporting a leg of the shoring towers". The failure of the concrete pad, built too thinly, led to another finding; one-inch (2.5 cm) bolts that were supposed to connect key stringers to cross-beams instead were replaced with frictional clips, but investigators did not find any documentation that supported this substitution. Investigators could not locate any engineering calculations supporting the pads as designed; worse, the pads were built substandard to the undocumented design.
Lawsuits against companies involved in building the ramp were settled out of court, as no single party could be found to explain the discrepancies. The bridge finally opened in 1986. In 1987, the state designated the route between US 12 and the Indiana Toll Road as the "Highway Construction Workers Memorial Highway," in their memory.
During the middle of 2006, numerous drivers reported possible attacks by a sniper on the eastern portion of Cline Avenue. Drivers reported having their windows and windshields shattered by unknown projectiles. Investigators, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation, suspected an assailant armed with a slingshot or a BB gun was shooting out windows. Others suspected the broken windows were due to flying gravel and abnormally warm temperatures. The shootings were not related to an earlier July 25 shooting death of a motorist on I-65 south of Indianapolis. No arrests were ever made in the case, and the shootings ended around the beginning of the school year.
On November 13, 2009, the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) closed the bridge portion over the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal (the portions of the road between exits 1 and 5A) to all traffic after consultants released details of an inspection on the bridge, citing safety concerns equivalent to the August 2007 I-35W bridge collapse in Minneapolis.
The bridge was originally supposed to be replaced within three years, but then INDOT claimed the $90 million expense for a new bridge for 30,000 vehicles per day was not justifiable. Instead, INDOT focused on upgrading the roadways being used as a detour around the bridge to handle the added traffic. On April 15, 2010, INDOT announced its plan to demolish the bridge and reroute traffic via Riley and Dickey roads.
On November 2, 2010, INDOT reopened the westbound lanes of SR 912 from Riley Road to the Indiana Toll Road, while awaiting results of an environmental impact study to determine if the eastbound lanes should be reopened. While the ramp from westbound Riley Road to SR 912 reopened, crews demolished the eastbound ramp from SR 912 to Riley Road as it was found to be structurally unsound.
Demolition of the bridge continued into 2012 and was completed in January 2013. The span over the Indiana Harbor Ship Channel was removed by conventional demolition methods, while the spans over land were removed with explosives. On January 8, 2013, the bridge demolition was completed.
Discussion on replacing the span continued, and in 2012, INDOT agreed to replace the span with a private toll bridge. The state sought a private partnership in a joint venture with United Bridge Partners who is joined by FIGG Bridge Companies, Lane Construction Corp. and American Infrastructure MLP funds. Construction of the bridge was expected to begin in early 2014 and take approximately 2 1⁄2 years to complete. The cost of the bridge is expected to be $150–250 million to complete depending on whether steel beams from the original structure can be reused. The Figg Group, having won awards for its bridge designs, will be incorporating unique design features into the new bridge, including LED lighting on the concrete piers, making it a gateway attraction. Toll schedules are not yet set but are expected to be anywhere from $2.50 to $3.50 for cars. The Figg Group later revised the bridge's completion year to 2019.
On March 30, 2015, a vehicle was following outdated GPS data and apparently drove around multiple warning signs and barriers, driving off the closed bridge and resulting in the death of the vehicle's passenger.
Management issues and litigation
On April 16, 2020, the bridge construction was almost done but Randy Palmateer, business manager for Northwestern Indiana Building and Construction Trades Council said, "The job is shut down." This shut down is caused by management issues, and the end of the project will be unknown. The FIGG Bridge group did not respond to these workers that were being laid off and the cancellation of the bridge construction. As a result of management issues, the owner of the bridge, Cline Avenue Bridge LLC, had cut ties with FIGG Bridge Builders.
The bridge owners took legal action against the Great American Insurance Group for $105 million in August 2020.
The entire highway is in Lake County.
|Hammond||0.00||0.00||I-90 west / Indiana Toll Road west – Chicago||Western end of freeway; westbound exit and eastbound entrance; I-90 exit 3|
|1||US 41 (Calumet Avenue)||All eastbound traffic must exit|
|East Chicago||2.46||3.96||Riley Road||Westbound entrance only|
|Bridge opening unknown|
|4.04||6.50||4A||Michigan Avenue||All northbound traffic must exit|
|4.09||6.58||Block Avenue||Southbound entrance only|
|4B||Inland Steel||Southbound entrance and northbound exit|
|5B||ArcelorMittal Plant 2|
|5C||Jeorse Park, Pastrick Marina – Ameristar Casino||No northbound entrance|
|5A||US 12 west (Columbus Drive) / SR 312 west (Chicago Avenue) / Buffington Harbor Drive – Majestic Star Casino||No southbound entrance; northbound exit to Buffington Harbor Drive only|
|5.62||9.04||6B||Airport Road||Southbound exit; formerly eastbound US 12|
|6||US 12 west / LMCT (Columbus Drive) / Airport Road||Northern end of US 12 concurrency; southbound entrance and northbound exit|
|6.53||10.51||7A||SR 312 west (Chicago Avenue)||Northbound exit only|
|6.93||11.15||7||I-90 / Indiana Toll Road / Gary Avenue||I-90 exit 10|
|8||US 12 east / US 20 / LMCT (Michigan Street / 5th Avenue) – Gary, Michigan City, South Bend||Southern end of US 12 concurrency; signed as exits 8A (west) and 8B (east)|
|9||169th Street, 15th Avenue|
|10||I-80 / I-94 / US 6 (Borman Expressway) to I-65 – Chicago, Detroit||Signed as exits 10A (west) and 10B (east); I-80/I-94 exit 5|
|11.69||18.81||Ridge Road||Southern terminus of SR 912; no trucks over 8 short tons (7.3 t) allowed westbound|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|
- Staff (2004). Reference Post Book (PDF). Indianapolis: Indiana Department of Transportation. S-912. Archived from the original (PDF) on June 15, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
- Fegaras, Angie (December 28, 2009). "INDOT Recommends Permanent Closure of SR 912 (Cline Avenue) Bridge" (Press release). Indiana Department of Transportation. Retrieved January 3, 2010.
- Puente, Michael (May 16, 2012). "Cline Avenue Bridge to Be Rebuilt as Toll Road". Chicago: WBEZ-FM. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
- Benman, Keith (December 29, 2009). "Cline Avenue Bridge Will Be Demolished". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Munster, IN. Retrieved January 1, 2010.
- Davich, Jerry (April 1, 2007). "It Was Chaos, Mass Chaos" (PDF). Chicago Tribune. Retrieved November 14, 2009.
- "Michael Charles Beird". Indiana Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on August 20, 2008. Retrieved May 25, 2019.
- Unknown (April 16, 1982). "Bridge Ramp Falls, Kills 12 at E. Chicago; 18 are injured". The Indianapolis Star. Archived from the original on August 20, 2008. Retrieved April 16, 2008.
- Bannon, Timothy; Krause, Ruth Ann (April 16, 1982). "A Times Special Report: The bridge collapse". The Times of Northwest Indiana.
- Indiana Department of Transportation (2010). "Indiana Memorial Highways and Bridges". Indianapolis: Indiana Department of Transportation. Archived from the original on May 15, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2012.
- Maxwell, Tonya & Huppke, Rex W. (August 8, 2006). "Even Weather a Suspect in Indiana 'Sniper' case". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved May 2, 2008.
- Bingham, Joshua (November 13, 2009). "SR 912 (Cline Avenue) Bridge Closed to All Traffic" (Press release). Indiana Department of Transportation. Retrieved November 13, 2009.
- Tweh, Bowdeya & Kwiatkowski, Marisa (April 16, 2010). "Cline Avenue Bridge won't be rebuilt: Proposal would combine Dickey, Riley Roads Across Canal and Back to Cline". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Munster, IN. Retrieved April 16, 2010.
- Benman, Keith (November 2, 2010). "Portion of Cline Avenue Reopens in One Direction". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Munster, IN. Retrieved November 2, 2010.
- Benman, Keith (January 9, 2013). "End of the Road for Cline Avenue Bridge". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Munster, IN. Retrieved January 27, 2013.
- Benman, Keith (August 19, 2012). "Cline Bridge Turnover Deadline Looms". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Munster, IN. Retrieved August 19, 2012.
- Benman, Keith (May 8, 2013). "Cline Avenue Bridge Building Preparations Begin". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Munster, IN. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
- Benman, Keith (October 16, 2013). "Cline Ave Bridge Construction Could Start Next Year". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Munster, IN. Retrieved January 4, 2014.
- Steele, Andrew (June 14, 2017). "New Cline Avenue Bridge set to open in 2019". The Times of Northwest Indiana. Retrieved August 18, 2018.
- Napoleon, Carrie (March 30, 2015). "Cops: Woman Dies in Crash After Husband Drives Car off Closed Bridge". Chicago Tribune. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
- Matyszczyk, Chris (March 30, 2015). "Driver Follows GPS off Disused Bridge, and Wife Dies, Police Say". CNET. Retrieved March 30, 2015.
- Steele, Andrew (April 16, 2020). "Cline Avenue Bridge project shut down, workers laid off, union official says". NWI Times. Retrieved June 19, 2020.
- Steele, Andrew. "Insurer hit with $105M lawsuit over Cline Avenue Bridge". nwitimes.com. Retrieved October 25, 2020.