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Bremen highway closure brings frustration to drivers

MISHAWAKA, Ind. -- The portion of Bremen Highway between Ireland Road and Dragoon closed all day Thursday due to pavement buckling. 

This specific portion of the road has buckled in five locations over the past three years. Every time it happens the county closes the road to replace the panels of concrete. While the road is closed, the county also replaces panels that seem at risk for buckling soon. 

The road is a major highway for drivers traveling in and out of Mishawaka. Not being able to use it forces drivers onto back roads. With closures the last three years, drivers are starting to question why it happens so often. 

"It's annoying because we have to go around every time that it happens. We feel like it would be better off it they would just fix the problem," said Vincent Hamlin. Hamlin has lived in the area his whole life, and uses the highway daily.

But fixing the problem might not be so easy. The county says this type of road is more cost efficient and less prone to potholes. When the asphalt beneath the road expands in heat and moisture, it causes the concrete to buckle. This happens year after year. 

"It appears that what we're doing here is just a band-aid," said Jerry Frost, president of Frost Engineering. "It's not getting to the real issue."

But fixing the concrete slabs every year saves thousands of dollars. The county says it only costs about $2000 to fix the buckles, whereas reconstructing the road could cost up to $1,000,000 per mile. 

Frost said he feels there is also a safety issue, because the detours are not clearly lined. 

"We could improve where traffic is detoured to and from," Frost said. 

Drivers are expected to be allowed back on the road by Friday evening. The county poured concrete throughout the day Thursday. The concrete needs about 24 hours to harden.

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