Cline Avenue Bridge – East Chicago, Indiana

The new Cline Avenue Bridge in East Chicago, Indiana, is a precast concrete segmental bridge that crosses the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal and connects SH 912 to I-90. This elevated expressway connection provides a sustainable and vital link to important commercial industries and employment centers along the Lake Michigan shoreline, the Gary/ Chicago Airport, and the Lake County Region.

To overcome the challenges of working over the canal and active railroads and to avoid environmental and navigational impacts, the concrete segmental solution was built using the balanced cantilever method of precast segment erection. Each of the 685 precast concrete superstructure segments was cast in a casting yard located on the Cline Avenue Bridge property. The site allowed access for erecting segments primarily with ground-based cranes. Erection was performed at two headings using two large-capacity cranes to lift and set the segments. Only the 314’-6” long main span was erected with marine operations over the canal. With the casting yard on the west side of the canal, approximately one-half of the segments were delivered to the cranes by the straddle lift. Once erection progressed across the canal, the remaining segments were transported to the other side of the canal to complete erection of the east side spans.

The new bridge has an estimated design life of 100 years. Concrete segmental bridges as a structure type are inherently durable due to the use of sustainable materials and biaxial post-tensioning.

The precast superstructure segments incorporate an integral wearing surface with a low-permeability, high compressive strength concrete mix. The new bridge construction used local materials and provided over 300 local jobs, which enhanced economic opportunities throughout the area.

The City of East Chicago’s goal of completing the new bridge as expeditiously as possible was accomplished with a precast concrete segmental solution. This design facilitated rapid construction of the superstructure, regardless of weather, while concurrently building the substructure. Balanced cantilever construction techniques were utilized to build the bridge continuously and without interruption.

Construction team leaders collaborated with the engineering team during design to ensure all constructability reviews were incorporated efficiently from the start. Design team leaders worked with the inspection team during construction to ensure design intent was incorporated and questions were addressed quickly.

It is important to the City of East Chicago and surrounding communities that the new bridge serves as the Gateway of Lake County. To honor beautiful aesthetics while remaining low- maintenance and highly durable. The new bridge both complements and blends into the local setting, allowing the bridge to enhance the surrounding environment rather than distract from it. Color and texture are predominantly that of natural concrete, accented with a vibrant blue, complementing the hues of the adjacent areas.

The superstructure features long open spans and box girder webs that taper down to a narrow width at the top of the pier cap. The slender rectangular piers flare transversely at the top and include colorful blue inset reveals to enhance the bridge’s appearance. Aesthetic lighting located within each inset reveal uses soft white LED lighting to accentuate the pier shape at night. Energy-efficient, low-maintenance LED roadway lighting provides focused illumination on the bridge deck while minimizing light spillage.

The new Cline Avenue Bridge construction cost was $436/SF. Because traditional Department funding was not available to replace the bridge, the design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the new bridge was privately funded without using any federal, state, or local tax dollars. This new project is supported by user fees (tolls) and uses a modern all- electronic open road tolling system. The new bridge provides ample cost savings to the Lake County Region by restoring a critical transportation route after an 11-year shutdown.

The new bridge was constructed with minimal impact on the traveling public. The bridge is located within a congested industrial area surrounded by businesses and residences with limited access points for construction. The project site also includes numerous underground utilities, overhead electric lines, and tracks and facilities for multiple railroads. Segmental balanced cantilever construction eliminated impacts to these facilities and allowed for uninterrupted railroad operations during construction. Segmental balanced cantilever construction also eliminated the need for temporary piers in the river and allowed the construction to minimize the impact to the Indiana Harbor and Ship Canal below.

The new Cline Avenue Bridge utilized concrete segmental construction techniques to overcome the challenges of working in a congested industrial area, over the canal, and over-active railroads. The concrete segmental design achieved aesthetics, form, and function while reconnecting a region that was disconnected for 11 years, enhancing the quality of life and providing the community with an improved transportation network.

Jury Comments

The use of segmental construction provided a solution to a challenging corridor that included a rail yard and a marine crossing. Collaboration among multiple stakeholders and solutions presented, such as ensuring construction operations could advance independent of weather conditions, demonstrated a unique and driven problem-solving approach to delivering this bridge for the community. The project was also able to provide a very cost-effective solution while providing an aesthetically mindful structure in its simplicity that incorporates lighting, color, and clean geometric lines to honor its role as the Gateway to Lake County.


2023 ASBI Bridge Award of Excellence
Category: Urban Bridges


United Bridge Partners

Owner’s Engineer:


Design-Build Team:
FIGG Bridge Builders

FIGG Bridge Builders

Construction Engineering Services:

Constructability Review/ Estimating Services:
Armeni Consulting Services, LLC

Construction Engineering Inspection:
FIGG Bridge Inspection

Precast Producer:
Cline Precast, LLC (A FIGG Company)

Formwork for Precast Segments:

Erection Equipment:
FIGG Bridge Builders

Structural Technologies VSL


Expansion Joints:
D.S. Brown Company

Epoxy Supplier:

Prepackaged Grout:
Euclid Chemical Company

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