Friday, November 30, 2012
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City: Talks continue on what to do with Oglesby bridge

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[November 30, 2012]  Tuesday evening at the Lincoln City Council workshop meeting, the topic of what to do with the Oglesby Avenue bridge came back to the forefront.

In February of 2011 it was discovered that the bridge was no longer safe for vehicular traffic and it was closed immediately.

Since then there have been several discussions on what to do about the bridge. Because the city is working with very tight cash constraints, and because residents on Oglesby Avenue have not expressed a desire to have the bridge at all, the council first decided it would be best to demolish the bridge and save the money for bridges that are more traveled.

At the time, Mark Mathon was the city engineer, and he estimated that taking the bridge out and putting up roadblocks would cost approximately $50,000.

However, when the bids for the project were opened in August, the costs ranged from $60,000 to $100,000.

In addition, in the time that had elapsed, Prairie Engineers of Central Illinois had taken on the role of city engineers. Darren Forgy of that firm had reservations about the bids and the specifications for the bridge removal.

He said the conceptual design presented in the bid specifications did not meet with Illinois Department of Transportation standards for a "turnaround." Specifications need to be adjusted for a cul-de-sac.

He said the city would need to rebid the project with a different set of specifications. He also indicated that this would involve increased costs for the project.

The intent had been to demolish the bridge and build cul-de-sacs on both sides, then finish out the area to be attractive for residents in the community.

Later Forgy would suggest that perhaps there was a need for a cul-de-sac only on the south side because the number of residents on the north side was limited, and that part of the street could be a dead end.

This week, Anderson said the costs for the project seemed to be piling up and she had to ask if the city could close the bridge permanently to vehicles without demolishing it. She suggested placing something such as concrete planters at the edges of the bridge to stop traffic and still allow for bikes and walkers to use it.

Forgy said that was perfectly possible, but he cautioned that the cost of the actual bridge demolition was estimated at only about $15,000. He said some elevation or grading work might also be eliminated, but putting in the cul-de-sac and finishing the area to look attractive would still be pretty costly.

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The question arose as to whether there was really a need for a cul-de-sac. Chuck Conzo, city treasurer, asked what the real purpose of that would be. Forgy said basically to allow large vehicles a place to turn around without entering a private driveway.

Anderson lives on Oglesby and noted that in all this time, there has been no cul-de-sac and it didn't seem to be all that big a deal. However, others commented that there are folks who are disturbed by vehicles turning around in their driveways, and that should be considered as well.

David Armbrust talked about how to block the bridge, saying that on country roads a metal barrier is put up. He said it might not look too good, but it works.

David Wilmert also questioned if the city should do a cul-de-sac. He said that in going to that extent, wasn't the city saying that they would never go back and put a bridge in there again, and was that something they knew for sure?

Anderson commented that with the cost of a new bridge being $300,000 to $400,000, she felt like it was something they knew for sure they would not be doing on Oglesby.

At the end of the discussions, Forgy said he would take Anderson's suggestion and see what could be done.


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