Fort Wayne, Allen County, on verge of a bridge-inspection deal

The Edsall Avenue Bridge has been closed since mid-2015, and it is now the city's job to oversee -- and pay for -- its planned reopening at a cost of more than $1 million. (File photo by Kevin Leininger of The

When Mayor Tom Henry announced last September the city would assume responsibility for maintaining, repairing and building its own bridges, officials knew they’d have to find somebody to do the job previously handled by the Allen County Highway Department. And now it appears they have found that partner, at least in part: the Allen County Highway Department.

The Allen County Commissioners Friday are expected to approve a four-year agreement under which the county would oversee inspection of the city’s bridges, which is required by law every two years. The county will work with a consultant, and the city will pay the local share of the cost of bridges subject to state and federal requirements. The county would also provide the city with an inventory of its bridges, inspection results and other services.

The city’s estimated local cost, roughly 20 percent of the total, would be $64,887. Federal funding would cover the rest.

New Haven Mayor Terry McDonald also announced in September his city would assume responsibility for its bridges. In 2009 Fort Wayne and other municipalities had agreed to give Allen County some of their county wheel tax income in exchange for bridge repairs and maintenance, but the agreement expired in October. In 2017, Fort Wayne paid $1.35 million and New Haven spent $70,000, but Allen County wanted Fort Wayne to pay about $2.7 million this year, with almost $470,000 from New Haven. The city said it was uncomfortable with the increase, and McDonald said his employees could do the job more efficiently. County officials, however, said the increase reflected rising costs.

Several smaller cities and towns have signed new agreements giving the county a share of their wheel tax revenues in exchange for bridge maintenance services.