Friday, February 15, 2013
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City revisits last week's decision on Oglesby bridge project

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[February 15, 2013]  This week, due to the Tuesday holiday, the Lincoln City Council met on Wednesday evening for their committee-of-the-whole workshop.

Eight aldermen were present, with Marty Neitzel and Bruce Carmitchel being absent for the evening.

Once again this week, a main topic of discussion was the bridge on Oglesby Avenue.

During last week's voting session, the council agreed to give city engineers Darren Forgy and Lisa Kramer of Prairie Engineers permission to do further research into obtaining federal bridge funds for the demolition of the bridge.

The project as outlined by Forgy included removal of the bridge, doing finish work to prevent vehicles from driving into the creek, and building a cul-de-sac on the south side of the creek. The estimated cost of the project was approximately $120,000 to $124,000.

Of that amount, $100,000 would be provided by federal bridge funds that are under the jurisdiction of Logan County engineer Bret Aukamp and belong to the county. Aukamp had indicated to Forgy and Kramer that he was in favor of giving the city the $100,000. However, because it is federal money, the city would have to follow a different set of rules in doing the work than if they were to do it themselves.

Last week the council was told that the earliest the city could go out for bid using federal funds would be the early part of 2014. They were also told that if they removed the engineering design costs from the federal amount, they might be able to speed up the process by a few months and go out for bid late in 2013.

Wednesday evening, Forgy added to that information, saying that with the federal money involved, the process would take a lot more time. He estimated that the earliest the city could bid the project would be early spring 2014, with construction to be that summer, more than a year away.

He said that, yes, the process could be sped up a little bit if the city pays the engineering design costs out of its own pocket, but the odds of getting anything done before the early part of next year were pretty slim.

Melody Anderson said she didn't have the papers in front of her, but she recalled there was one option presented several weeks ago that would cost the city $35,000 out-of-pocket. David Wilmert confirmed it was option 6 presented by Forgy in January. Stacy Bacon added that option 6 had been her choice all along, with the exception of the "silly planters."

During the discussions in January, the council had gotten caught up in a discussion of how to block the dead-end street once the bridge was taken out. In what appeared to be a move to avoid that argument again, Anderson raised her hands and simply said "whatever," then moved on to the point she was hoping to make.

She asked Forgy what the out-of-pocket expense for the city would be if the cost of engineering was taken out of the federal money and added to the match dollars the city would have to come up with. He responded that in total, the city's share would then be approximately $37,000 to $38,000.

Anderson then commented, "If it's going to take $37,000 to get the federal funds, let's just use our $35,000 and get it done." Wilmert immediately agreed.

Anderson went on to explain that she and her husband, Andy Anderson, live on Oglesby and often walk down to the bridge and find that the barricades have been moved. She noted that this week they had been moved to the extent that a vehicle could have driven over the bridge. She said she was not in favor of waiting yet another year to get this resolved.

In comparing the federal design plan to option 6, the primary difference is that the federally funded project includes building the cul-de-sac, while option 6 does not.

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Forgy said another solution for the current problem could be to invest about $10,000 in some barricades that could not be moved.

Tracy Jackson, superintendent of the street department, said barriers could be purchased that can be filled with sand or water. These would move if struck by a vehicle, but kids playing around wouldn't be able to make them budge. He said the cost of such barriers would be about $350 each and could be reused by the department.

Anderson said she would go along with doing something like that if it was really necessary to have a cul-de-sac.

Chuck Conzo, city treasurer, asked about the option for turning the bridge into a walking bridge, but Anderson said that wasn't going to be possible. She said Aukamp had looked at the bridge and said it has continued to deteriorate since being closed. Repairing it for safe foot and bike traffic would be too costly, and there was no guarantee as to how long the bridge would last after it would be repaired.

Tom O'Donohue asked if the city had the money to do the work on its own and was told that it did. He also asked if the city did the work on its own, how soon could the bridge be taken out? Forgy said it could be done this spring.

Anderson then drew the conclusion that no matter which route the city takes, it is going to spend basically the same amount of money. Wilmert then commented that he thought it was time to get this done.

Mayor Keith Snyder brought things to a close on a lighter note, asking, "Do we have a motion to put on the agenda? If we don't, we're going to have our meeting on the 26th on the bridge."

The comment drew laughs from the full council.

Then O'Donohue quipped: "I was going to make a motion, but now I want to have a meeting on the bridge." He then went on to say that he would like to put option 6 from the original plans on the next voting agenda.

Once the bridge is taken out, a permanent structure of some type will have to be built to prevent vehicles from driving off into the creek at the dead-ends of the street. There was very little discussion on what that barrier might be, except for Anderson saying she wanted something that looked decent.

The council will have the opportunity to vote on a new motion next week. Due to Presidents Day, the voting session will be on Tuesday rather than the normal third Monday.


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