The Missouri Highway 47 Bridge Committee will ask the engineering firm designing the bridge, HDR, to complete a rendering with two more overhead elements identical to the structure on the proposed bridge design.
The decision came Thursday after the committee watched a powerpoint presentation on the bridge and discussed input from the public, the transportation committee and various groups.
“What we were trying to do with this overhead element is just have some historical harkening to the current bridge with those truss-type features,” said Bob Zick, bridge committee chairman. “It has some function as well in terms of helping to hold up the shade for the overlook.”
Transportation committee members earlier said they felt that the bridge looked “puny” with only one overhead structure. Others said it looked like an afterthought.
Adding the two additional structures also was one of the suggestions made by the transportation committee.
“In my mind, the three (structures) has some appeal to me, but it also detracts from it a little because you’re not going to have that nice silhouette, you’re going to have three silhouettes at different levels,” Zick said.
Mayor Sandy Lucy said all options should be explored before committing to the enhancements.
“We’ve made some big decisions on this bridge and I think that we should explore all our options and have the facts about it,” Lucy said.
There will be a minimal cost to complete the renderings, but the group felt that “paper and mockups are cheap compared to construction delays.”
Darren Lamb, economic development director and bridge enhancement committee member, said the additional cost associated with adding the elements may sway the public opinion.
To explore all options, the committee agreed to have cost estimates done on the two additional structures with and without lights, because the center beacon light may contribute to the cost of the element.
In the updated renderings, the committee also agreed that the “west side only” girder lighting option should be eliminated.
The enhancement committee originally discussed only lighting the girders on the most visible side of the bridge, the west side, because of the cost involved with lighting both sides.
Lighting the west side only was estimated to cost $587,000 and lighting both sides of the bridge was estimated to cost $1,133,000. Lighting both sides of the bridge bumped the total enhancement cost estimate from $1.35 million to $1.95 million.
The enhancement committee agreed that it wanted to try to fund all of the proposed enhancements, including lighting both sides.
Fire Chief Bill Halmich added that lighting both sides of the bridge also was a safety issue, though there will be required navigational lights.
“I think there is a safety benefit from a navigational standpoint to have that side (east) of the bridge lighted,” Halmich said, adding that with the lights, the bridge will be a benchmark location for watercraft on the river.
“In the absence of that, everything is dark. Barges are not the only thing out there,” he said. “We are getting more and more recreational boaters out at extended hours.”
The city has $800,000 in enhancement funds and plans to apply for grants through East-West Gateway to help cover the cost of the enhancements.
Lamb said he feels that the grant application will be strong for several reasons.
First, the city can match 50 percent when normal cost-sharing grants are only a 20 percent match.
The grant also would be supported by the city and Franklin County. Adding Warren County’s support also would contribute to the application, though Warren County is not in the East-West Gateway region, Lamb noted.
“We feel very comfortable submitting a quality application for this, that we could get a little less than $1 million funded with federal grant dollars if we pursue any enhancement package,” he told the committee.
Requesting more than one million dollars, though it’s not against the rules, may decrease the likelihood of receiving the grant, Lamb said.
Judy Wagner, MoDOT area engineer, recently presented the bridge powerpoint to the Lions Club.
Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer said the Lions Club seemed favorable to the design. Griesheimer also is a Lions member and a bridge enhancement committee member.
Wagner also displayed the presentation to a Sunset on the Riverfront event for comment.
Lucy said that the more she sees the presentation the more she likes the bridge.
Not an Option
Lamb said he thinks there is some misunderstanding with the public that the bridge would be an overhead truss bridge, similar to the one that currently spans the river.
Constructing a similar bridge, however, is not an option. Engineers estimated that building an overhead truss bridge would cost an additional $20 to $40 million dollars.
Zick said that having a truss bridge would probably detract from the life of the bridge.
“That kind of bridge just rusts,” he said.
Lamb agreed that building the girder bridge will give it a longer shelf life.
“That’s what (MoDOT) has done up and down the Missouri River,” he said.
A public input session will be held Tuesday, July 23, from 5 to 7 p.m. at St. Vincent’s Parish located off of Highway 94 near Dutzow.
The committee said it would like to have the renderings completed by that time for public input.
The transportation committee will meet again July 29 and will see the new renderings at that time.
Wagner will have a booth set up at the Washington Town and Country Fair to help educate the public about the bridge, as well as to hear comments. Aug. 16 is the deadline to collect public comments.
East-West Gateway is set to approve the TIP Wednesday, July 31. The bridge funding is included in the TIP, which is the final step in approving the funding.
A public hearing on right of way will be held sometime in October.