Broadway railroad bridge latest to get a facelift under city’s ‘Front Door’ program

This is how the Norfolk Southern Bridge across Broadway will look following a planned makeover. (Courtesy image)
This is how the bridge looks now. (Courtesy photo)
Russ Garriott II

Another high-profile railroad bridge in central Fort Wayne will be getting a makeover — this one not far from the massive Electric Works development.

In the latest project of the city’s “Front Door Fort Wayne” plan, a 10-year initiative begun in 2012 to beautify primary corridors and gateways, the Norfolk Southern bridge over Broadway near Taylor Street will receive a new facade, repairs to the concrete face of the underdeck, piers and abutments and the removal of overgrowth. New lights will also be installed beneath the bridge to improve visibility and safety for motorists and pedestrians, according to city planner Russ Garriott II.

But event though the bridge is just to the south of the former General Electric campus slated for a $250 million conversion into offices, shops, markets and other attractions, the Broadway bridge was not selected for its proximity to the project, which this month received the last of $65 million in local public funding commitments developer RTM Ventures has said is necessary to proceed. Instead, Garriott said, the span was selected after conferring with nearby businesses.

“The idea is to do projects that are transformational for neighborhoods and commercial corridors,” he said.

Seventeen rail bridges have been identified as requiring varying degrees of improvement, and several projects have been completed already, including spans on Jefferson, Lindenwood, Clinton and Lafayette. Just this week, in fact, Mayor Tom Henry and others dedicated the “Metaform” sculpture that was part of the beautification of the overpass near East Columbia Street downtown.

Garriott declined to reveal the estimated cost for fear of influencing bids, which are due by Nov. 20. Construction could begin next spring, he said. The work will be funded through local income taxes. Norfolk Southern is not helping to pay for the improvements, which are considered cosmetic. About 13,425 vehicles pass under the bridge every day.

A railroad bridge owned by CSX runs through the Electric Works site further to the north, and Garriott said the city might be interested in working with RTM Ventures to upgrade that overpass, too.