“State Line Bridge is coming out,” Kankakee County Board Chairman Andy Wheeler said after a meeting July 11 of the Kankakee River Basin Commission of Indiana.
“If that bridge falls in the river, it’s going to cost more than it would to scrap it out,” he added. “We’re going to talk with (Indiana’s) Newton and Lake counties about it.”
The three counties share responsibility for the bridge and State Line Road.
The bridge has stood over the Kankakee River on the state line about 7 miles east of Momence since 1924, when it was moved from where it was built in 1900, just south of where Illinois Route 17 now crosses the river west of Hieland Road.
Numerous proposals to rebuild or replace the bridge have been made since even before it was finally closed to traffic about 18 years ago, but it still stands unused except for the occasional fisherman, hiker or journalist who chooses to cross over.
It stands across the river about a mile north of Illinois Route 114/Indiana 10 — down a one-lane, sometimes-flooded gravel, rock and pothole road. From the north, a better two-lane country blacktop leads to the boat launch area of Indiana’s LaSalle Fish & Wildlife Area on the east and a collection of houses and cabins on the Illinois side on the west.
Now, Lake and Kankakee county officials have agreed, that the “best option in the public interest” is to have the bridge dismantled and sold for scrap, stating as Kankakee County suggested “that the cost of preservation in any circumstance is beyond what could be considered a reasonable use of public funds.”
Lake County officials had outlined several reasons for the action:
• That State Line Road in the area of the bridge “is closed six months of the year due to flooding” (a claim that seems exaggerated).
• That the road has been closed since 2000 without identifiable adverse economic impacts.
• That very few residences are located in the area around the bridge.
• That north-south U.S. Route 41 is 4-miles east and is open year-round.
• That an engineer’s cost estimate for repairing the bridge was $1.8 million, but the only bid received in February 2018 was $7.5 million.