It came as a bit of a surprise because just a few short
months earlier the bridge had passed a state inspection deeming it
safe, even though it is a more than 50-year-old structure.
city learned about this when a local resident out walking noticed
there was a "pothole" in the bridge floor and notified the city.
Upon inspection it was found that the problem was much more serious
than just a pothole, and the bridge was closed.
With the city struggling financially over the last few years, the
decision was made to not pursue replacing the bridge immediately.
The bridge was barricaded off and has remained that way since.
Tuesday night, city engineer Mark Mathon brought up the subject
of the bridge once again. He said there are seven bridges that cross
Brainard's Branch. Four of them are within a four-block area, on
Palmer Avenue, Oglesby Avenue, Grand Avenue and Union Street.
Of the seven bridges, Mathon said three were concrete box culvert
construction and in good condition. He said the other four were
single-span bridges built in the 1960s.
All the bridges appear to be in good condition at the moment, he
said. However, it was also noted that the Oglesby Avenue bridge
appeared to be in good condition just three to four months before it
Mathon said that of all the bridges that cross Brainard's Branch,
the bridge on Oglesby Avenue was the one least traveled.
He said what it comes down to is that replacing any one of the
four span bridges would cost approximately $300,000. He asked the
council if they should consider permanent closure of the Oglesby
Avenue bridge, thus saving that expense in case it would be needed
for one of the more traveled bridges.
During discussion, Alderwoman Melody Anderson, who represents the
ward where the bridge is located, asked what the cost would be to
demolish the bridge.
Mathon said he couldn't pinpoint the cost but estimated it would
be around $50,000 to demolish the bridge and clean up the area. He
said there would need to be some type of beautification for the
Anderson also asked if Mathon had investigated any grants that
would help pay for having any of the bridges replaced. Mathon said
there is money designated for the Fifth Street Road project that
could be used on State Street only. He said State Street was listed
as an "urban route" and eligible for federal funding.
Mathon explained that the city currently gets $110,000 per year,
but it has always been set aside for the Fifth Street Road project.
However, it could be redesignated for State Street if needed.\
Mayor Keith Snyder wanted to know if the box culvert construction
was less costly than a span bridge. Mathon said it actually cost
more but is more durable.
Snyder also asked Anderson and Alderwoman Stacy Bacon, who also
represents that ward, what they believed their constituents would
want the city to do. Specifically, he wanted to know if the city
should have a public meeting about this, or if they should go
forward with making a decision.
[to top of second column]
Anderson said in the 13 months the bridge has been closed, she
has received one phone call, one message delivered through her
husband, Andy Anderson, and one message delivered through Alderwoman
Kathy Horn. She also noted that of the three, two were actually in
favor of keeping the bridge closed.
Bacon said the only comments she has received have been regarding
the Palmer Street bridge. The bridge is higher than the road, and
the approach to the bridge is very rough. She said her constituents
have said they would like to see that bridge made smoother.
Mathon said he had three bridges, including Palmer, that need
some work. He specified that work needed to be done for erosion
control, and also there was a need for some asphalt work.
With the end of the fiscal year drawing near, it was discussed
whether any of the work had to be done before May 1. Other
discussion included a question from Alderman Jeff Hoinacki, who
wondered if the city should go ahead and go out for bids on the
demolition of the bridge on Oglesby so the council would have solid
numbers for the new budget year.
Mathon, however, suggested they not do that. He explained that he
had talked with county engineer Bret Aukamp, who said the county
would be seeking bids for structure work this summer. Mathon said if
the city and county go out for bids at the same time, it could offer
some cost advantages.
He explained if contractors have multiple projects, they may
lower their bid because they are doing all the work in one general
As the discussion wound down, Snyder asked Mathon to do some
research on the cost of making improvements to the Palmer Street
bridge and have it ready for the council for the workshop meeting on
March 13. He indicated the discussions on the bridges would continue
[By NILA SMITH]
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