Almost abandoned bridge on the Dixie Highway in Indianapolis

Imagery and map data © 2017 Google

Once upon a time, State Road 37 (also the Dixie Highway) passed through Indianapolis on a two-lane alignment. But as the main artery to Bloomington, I’m sure that traffic could overwhelm such a narrow highway. Over the years, this road, like so many others, was improved.

One improvement was to build a new four-lane expressway between the two cities. The big new road began about a mile west of Bluff Road at the I-465 highway, which looped the city.

But after about four and a half miles the new road merged into the path of the old. The old road was dead-ended.

But there was a house right there at old-road’s end. And the old road crossed Pleasant Run just before reaching it, on a bridge built in 1954. That bridge remains, as does the original concrete pavement which probably dates to the 1920s or 1930s.

Bluff Road

The railing is of a style I’ve not seen elsewhere on Indiana highways.

Bluff Road

This is a reinforced concrete slab bridge; those arches are decorative, not load-bearing.

Bluff Road

At its last inspection it was rated as Structurally Deficient for poor substructure and eroding banks. But given that it serves just one house, I’m sure the city isn’t giving this bridge a second thought.

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4 responses to “Almost abandoned bridge on the Dixie Highway in Indianapolis”

  1. J P Cavanaugh Avatar

    I guess I had not realized that Bluff Road had been the old 37/Dixie Highway. My Mrs (who really doesn’t like driving on interstate-style highways if she can help it) and I have discovered that at any time other than rush hours we can get to 37 via a route through downtown and on Bluff Road in the same time as we would spend on I-465.

    I remember one time getting onto a dead end when we were working out our route and this may have been it.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Bits and pieces of old Bluff Road exist here and there through somewhere into Johnson County, so if you’re ever in an exploring mood, you can see them.

      I’m with your wife about the Interstates.

  2. Dan Cluley Avatar
    Dan Cluley

    Interesting that the bridge is wider than the road. I’m assuming that at the time they were still planning to upgrade the road rather than bypass it.

    I’ve got a similar one near me. Small Acres lane in Okemos MI was originally US-16. Sometime in the 1920s-30s they eliminated several curves and built a bridge over the GTW railroad creating what is now the M-43 alignment of Grand River ave, and leaving a couple houses on the stub of Small Acres. The bridge there is narrow enough that it must have been pretty tight for 2 lanes even in the days of Model Ts.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      The bridge’s extra width suggests shoulders, rather than extra lanes, to me. This is a pretty narrow roadway — 16, maybe 18 feet. Here and there I’ve seen bridges that were clearly 4 lanes wide on a 2-lane road, though. It’s kind of amusing. Here’s one:

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