Fishers residents call for last-minute change to bridge project

FISHERS, Ind. -- Just a week after demolition started on a bridge over I-69, nearby residents have questioned why the new design won't include an important feature.

The Indiana Department of Transportation posted a video on its Facebook page Tuesday, showing demolition of the Brooks School Road bridge. It may not have expected the response it got, though.

"The growing chorus just started getting more and more," Fishers resident Andrew Maletta said.

After someone commented on the video and asked if the bridge would include sidewalks, and INDOT responded that it would not, other comments started pouring in. Residents expressed concern and frustration that the highly-trafficked bridge would not be made pedestrian-friendly.

"I think people just assumed that this would be part of it and then when it wasn’t, I think that’s when they started to really question it," Maletta said.

Maletta even started a petition, which garnered hundreds of signatures in just a couple of days.

FOX59 went to the state and city to see what was happening behind the scenes.

An INDOT spokesperson said that the bridge is part of larger I-69 corridor construction and it was designed in 2015, at which point public meetings were held to talk about the design. According to the spokesperson, INDOT approached the city of Fishers about sidewalks, and the city indicated it did not have a plan to connect pedestrian access over the bridge.

A city of Fishers spokesperson said that it later added access to its Fishers 2040 plan and asked INDOT to redesign the bridge, but the state said it was too late.

Residents told FOX59 that the bridge is used by bikers and walkers, and that it is dangerous already. The bridge connects Fishers and Noblesville, providing access to nearby Hamilton Town Center. New sidewalks have recently been added on the Noblesville side.

"People really have kind of come together on this really quick to try to get the attention of our leaders," Maletta said.

Their work seems to have made a difference. INDOT said it has sent its design partners to the drawing board to come up with some last-minute options that could work. Though there is no timeline, INDOT and Fishers both said in written statements that they were working to come to an agreement.

The city of Fishers provided this statement:

"While the Brooks School Road Bridge project is managed by INDOT, the City of Fishers has made a request to modify the project in order to allow for safe access to the bridge as outlined in the Fishers2040 bike and pedestrian plan. We look forward to continuing to work with our partners at INDOT on a solution for this project."

INDOT provided this statement:

"The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is sensitive to the concerns recently raised about pedestrian access on the Brooks School Road bridge over Interstate 69, which was closed on May 30 to rebuild the bridge deck.

INDOT and its design-build partners, Milestone Contractors and United Consulting, are thoroughly reevaluating the bridge design and coordinating with the city of Fishers to assess potential options for adding width for non-vehicular access across the bridge. This process will take some time.

It is too early to say what specific design changes might be feasible, and what the impact of those potential changes might be to the project schedule and construction costs. The magnitude of any design change is likely to correlate directly to increased construction costs and project schedule extensions.

The current plan is to have the new bridge deck complete and open to traffic before local schools resume in August. Existing bridge piers are not being rebuilt as part of this project and may need to be modified or rebuilt to add width to the bridge deck.

INDOT is dedicated to providing safe and accessible transportation for all Hoosiers and will make a prudent decision after evaluating reasonable options."