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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Echo
Bridge construct. 1

Upland bridge construction to increase, cause detours, delays

One lane roads will lead to detours

Upland’s bridge, connecting the north and south sides of town, will be closed due to construction on Main Street beginning in April. 

State Road 22, the Main Street of Upland, is undergoing construction to include sidewalks, road drainage and street lighting during the next year and a half. The project is financed by the state of Indiana, the town of Upland and Taylor University, totaling $18 million. 

Since Main Street is a state highway, the project is primarily funded by the state. 

Michael Harbin, professor emeritus of biblical studies and town council member, said people can expect a mess during the next year and a half.

“(There will be) big city type of traffic jams,” he said. “You're going to get a lot of traffic on Eighth Street because that's the only other bridge across the river. One of the suggestions is to exit 255 instead of 259 (off of I-69).”

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) wanted to lower Upland’s bridge, Harbin explained. However, the bridge had to be a minimum height. If the bridge was any lower, trains would not be able to pass under. 

Instead, INDOT resolved to lengthen the bridge, so it has less of a slope. 

Town Manager Jonathan Perez, who has been in contact with INDOT, said the construction would be completed in a year and a half. He said construction would be a launching point to continue further the development of the traditional, small downtown aesthetic. 

Perez explained the majority of the construction will be lane control, having one lane operate at a time. At other times, a segment of the road will be completely closed and drivers will have to take different routes.  

“Unfortunately, a lot of detours,” Perez said. “But we're all dealing with it, and we're all bearing with it.”

Perez said the road work would be done in four phases. 

The first phase focuses on the south end of Main Street — starting in front of Taylor — to Payne Road, starting April 1 and planned to be completed by Sept. 9. Phase two continues from Payne Road to Indiana Avenue. Construction on the north and south of Indiana Avenue will stop at the bridge as phase three. 

Phase four marks the reconstruction of the bridge to the north end of State Road 22, beginning June 27 and projected to be completed by November 2024. 

Ron Sutherland, the special assistant to the president of Taylor University and member of the town council, said Upland originally applied for a federal grant through the state, just under $2 million, to fix up the sidewalks and install street lights and road drainage.

Originally, INDOT offered $10.8 million to fund Upland’s project, Sutherland said. They planned to replace the bridge. However,  INDOT could reconstruct not only the bridge but install street lights, drainage and sidewalks on Main Street. 

Sutherland described the reconstruction of Upland as a freshly painted door to a house. The house and community didn’t change — it’s not a new community of members, made up of nicer people. The house is the same. 

“But we've cared for the front door,” Sutherland said. “And you create a better image when people drive through, of what's really going on in our community — so, it's not about changing our community. It's about really giving a front face to it that really says, ‘There's something interesting happening here.’”