Thursday, February 21, 2013
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City reaches a decision on Oglesby bridge

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[February 21, 2013]  Tuesday evening, the Lincoln City Council came to a consensus on the Oglesby Avenue bridge, although it was not a cut-and-dried vote. With eight members present, one voted against the motion, and even as the motion sat on the floor awaiting vote, other alternatives for the bridge were brought into the discussion.

However, when Marty Neitzel, after hearing the discussion, asked if the motion should be put on hold for a bit longer, Melody Anderson responded, "not really," with David Wilmert offering his support to moving forward now.

The discussion began with Mayor Keith Snyder recapping what the discussion last week had included. The motion was for removal of the bridge and placing some type of decorative barrier on either side, with the work to be paid for with city funds.

Snyder commented that Darren Forgy had provided a work order for the design, and the mayor opened the floor to Forgy to explain this.

Forgy said that based on the discussions last week, he felt the city hadn't really decided yet what they want to put up as a barrier. He said there were a variety of options that could be considered. He said he felt the best plan would be to consult a landscape architect and ask the person to submit rough drawings of three suggestions. He said that would add approximately $1,200 to the work order.

Forgy told the council he'd also had a discussion on Tuesday with the Illinois Department of Transportation for another option. He said the state allocates federal money to individual counties from the federal bridge fund, but they also keep a portion for themselves. Forgy said his conversation with IDOT led to the possibility that the city could get federal money directly from the state to replace the bridge. He told the council this would once again be an 80-20 split, with the city paying 20 percent of the total cost out-of-pocket. Forgy said this was a possibility, but he didn't have any concrete information about the proposal, although he probably could have, within the week.

Anderson spoke up, saying that in the original six options introduced by Forgy in January, the option the city is now voting on is option 6. She noted that the estimated cost for design engineering was $4,000. Now, looking at the work order, the cost has increased to $6,000.

Forgy said the majority of the difference was in the architect, but that the cost estimated for Prairie Engineers had also increased by $800.

However, there was also an option in the packet for replacement of the bridge. The estimated cost in that option was $300,000. Anderson said that in looking at it, the cost out-of-pocket for the city would be $60,000 to replace the bridge.

She noted to the council that she does live on Oglesby, and she hasn't had a lot of concern expressed by area residents over the absence of the bridge. She said she'd rather see the $60,000 put into repairing the street. She said the street is in bad condition, and she felt that would be a better use of the funds.

Neitzel then asked if Anderson wanted the council to put this vote on hold. Anderson replied: "Not really. I think we'll be prone to have another option come up every week or two, the way we are going."

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Snyder asked about leaving the abutments. Forgy said that was an option they were exploring. Forgy said first that if the abutments were left in place and a new floor put in the bridge, it could cost less than the estimated $300,000. However, he told the council he wasn't sure about that. He said he really hadn't gotten into that option to explore what the costs could end up being. He said Prairie Engineers did not prepare that option -- that it was done prior to their appointment as city engineers.

He said the abutments look good, but he'd want a structural engineer to look at them as well. If they were good, that could bring the cost down. However, he also reminded the council that getting the federal money involved would mean delays of up to another year for completion of the project.

Anderson asked if the bridge could be taken out and the abutments left there in case the city wanted to replace the bridge floor in the future. Forgy said that was an option if the city wanted to go that way.

Forgy said he didn't think it would save the city any money, though, and could cost more. He said he believed the cost of demolition would not decline by leaving the abutments and that if in the future the city wanted to take those out, it would involve additional cost.

Wilmert said what was being discussed sounded logical, but he had to wonder if and when the time would come to replace the bridge, if a new contractor wouldn't insist on taking the abutments out anyway so they could build their own as they built the bridge.

Tom O'Donohue asked about the other bridges in the area: Were they the same design and material and built around the same time? Forgy said they were basically the same. O'Donohue also noted that the bridge on Palmer, for example, is more vital in that area. He commented that all bridges will eventually fail, and when that one fails it will have to be replaced.

Forgy agreed, but he added that the probability of getting federal funds for Palmer would be much greater than for Oglesby. He noted that the loss of Oglesby inconvenienced only a few people, but Palmer was of "high enough importance" that the city could probably get the money.

When the motion came to a vote, David Armbrust voted against it and O'Donohue hesitated a moment but voted in favor. Others who voted in favor were Anderson, Kathy Horn, Jeff Hoinacki, Neitzel, Jonie Tibbs and Wilmert. Stacy Bacon and Bruce Carmitchel were absent for the evening.


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