More than 200 Indiana roads continue into other states, but 89 of the actual border crossing points are over bridges — enough to warrant a Border Bridge Program Manager position at INDOT.
Hoosier border bridges are shared with Illinois, Ohio, and Kentucky. (Oddly, Indiana shares no border bridges with Michigan.) Here’s the breakdown:
· Indiana/Illinois: 33 (10 interstate/U.S. highway/state road, 23 county)
· Indiana/Ohio: 30 (one interstate/U.S. highway/state road, 29 county)
· Indiana/Kentucky: 26 (16 interstate/U.S. highway/state road, 10 shared-approach state bridges)
INDOT’s Border Bridge Program Manager position was conceived in 2012 and is currently filled by Jesse Avant. In this role, Avant manages, oversees, and coordinates all aspects of the needs of state and local bridge assets that span the Indiana state line. This includes upkeep, maintenance, rehabilitation, reconstruction, and replacement of existing structures.
Because of the large number of shared interstate, U.S. highway, and state road bridges with Kentucky and Illinois, a large part of Avant’s job is meeting with those state officials to plan, budget, and forecast current and future projects that either state will be doing.
“We have developed a system that, each year, a different state will host the meeting,” said Avant. “We also use standard agreements and contracts for bridge proposals that each state is working on. It is helpful to have a relationship with the person processing contracts and memorandums of agreement in the adjoining states.”
Avant works with affected county LPAs and surrounding state DOTs to determine appropriate inspection, maintenance, and replacement of bistate assets, whether they are part of INDOT’s network or managed by the local city or county. He also works with surrounding states’ legal departments to draft and execute all bistate agreements for the design, construction, maintenance, and inspection of shared assets. Additionally, he reviews and approves invoices from other states’ agencies for shared work and submits and monitors payment of invoices to other states’ agencies.
Recent developments include the Illinois Department of Transportation agreeing to wash the deck of the Illinois 15/State Road 64 bridge over the Wabash River in Mount Carmel, Ill., and western Gibson County with INDOT paying half the cost. Avant also interacts often with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet regarding the I-275 Carroll Cropper Bridge in southeast Indiana and the T-1 steel inspections for Mauckport and Cannelton bridges over the Ohio River in Harrison and Perry counties.