ST. JOSEPH COUNTY -- Drivers beware: delays are the name of the game on U.S. 31. The beam project got a late start Thursday. That means delays are to be expected Thursday night and throughout the weekend.
Orange cones and barrels line a stretch of U.S. 31 in St. Joseph County – two miles south of the bypass near Whitmer Road. Workers have gotten used to the heat and humidity, and for much of the day, they’ve gotten used to waiting.
For five hours, crews spent the day getting the two sides of the highway ready for a much-publicized bridge project. Around 10:30 Wednesday night, something stopped the project dead in its tracks.
“Apparently there was a problem with the paperwork involved in the permits,” said INDOT Spokesperson, Jim Pinkerton.
So instead of shutting traffic down so the large cranes could lift the beams then pull them into place over the span, INDOT and the manufacturer spent the morning working to get the OK for those beams to travel from Michigan to Indiana.
“Obviously it has thrown a wrench. Those delays were delayed,” said Pinkerton. “Usually these processes go smoothly.”
Several hours later, workers prepared the site once they learned the beams were on the way. A couple hours after that, crews got right to work – their long break was finally over.
Crews are expected to place five beams Thursday night. The road will be restricted throughout the night to traffic so expect delays. Traffic will resume at its normal pace Friday so that crews will be able to get their rest then they'll continue working Saturday morning when they are expected to place the last five beams.