Enhancements planned for the new Missouri River bridge won’t include any overhead arch structure.
The decision to eliminate the overhead element came Thursday morning at a meeting of the bridge enhancement committee formed to develop a list of extras, or enhancements, for the new bridge.
The committee’s recommendation also calls for keeping the other enhancements proposed earlier, with the priorities being a decorative railing separating the bike/walking path from the bridge deck, pier lighting and low-level lighting along the full length of the walking trail.
Committee members agreed to leave in girder lighting, the most expensive enhancement item, contingent on obtaining a federal grant for that improvement.
Funding for the actual structure, slated to be built in 2017 and opened in 2018, is included in the 2014-17 Transportataion Improvement Program recently approved by the East-West Gateway Council of Governments.
It also is in the State Transportation Improvement Program approved last year by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission.
Those plans include money to construct the new bridge, but not for enhancements.
The city and Franklin and Warren counties contributed $800,000 toward bridge enhancements and that amount would cover the cost of the three priority items — estimated to cost $429,000. If girder lighting would be added on the west side only, that cost would be $1,016,000. To add girder lighting on both the east and west sides of the bridge, the cost would be approximately $1.6 million.
Arden Engelage, Warren County presiding commissioner and a member of the committee, said if the overhead structure is eliminated and girder lighting is done only on the west side, “we’re getting close to the budget.”
State Rep. Bart Korman, who represents Warren County, was the only person at the meeting who voted against eliminating the overhead structure.
Others agreed that removing the overhead element was the right approach and would let the structure stand on its own.
“It’s a wonderful structure,” remarked Ray Frankenberg Sr. He called adding things to the new bridge “silly,” and said he favors the sleek structure of the design proposed by MoDOT.
“Let’s let the bridge shine through,” Frankenberg said. “From an engineering standpoint I think it’s superior.”
Mayor Sandy Lucy noted that the committee has “gone through the process” of developing a list of enhancements and sought public comment.
“I think the concensus is that the structure on top is wrong,” Lucy said. “The beauty is the structure.”
Bob Zick, chairman, said after listening to “lots of people,” he reached the conclusion that the overhead element should be cut from the enhancements. The intent of the arch was to add an element to represent the history of the old bridge. “I don’t think people get that,” Zick added.
Bill Straatmann, representing the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee, said he supports removing the overhead structure. “The new bridge will grow on everyone,” he said. “It’s the future of Washington, not the past.”
Straatmann said he didn’t like the idea of seeking a grant for the enhancements, noting that MoDOT “pulled a lot of strings” to get funding for the bridge and that he felt it would be wrong to go for more federal funds.
Lucy, however, pointed out that MoDOT officials have “encouraged” the city to seek grants to pay for enhancements to the bridge.
“Washington has community pride in everything it does,” Lucy remarked. “It’s important to have a sense of pride in this new bridge,” she said, noting that the city needs to do all it can to add enhancements to the bridge.
Zick pointed out that Darren Lamb, community and economic development director, spoke with East-West staff members about using the $800,000 as a match to get an enhancement grant for the bridge.
“He (Lamb) felt it is very feasible that we could get a grant in the range of $1 million,” Zick said. “I don’t think we’re reaching for the stars.”
Korman noted that the federal pool of money will be there and if it’s not spent on the bridge it will be spent somewhere else.
Bridgette Epple, member, made the motion to proceed with the three priorities and add girder lighting if a grant can be secured.
The motion passed unanimously.
No Deck Lighting
The committee also agreed that above deck lighting should not be added to the enhancement list. Zick said he hasn’t heard a “big interest” in lighting the deck and “MoDOT doesn’t want us to do that.”
Zick noted that MoDOT needs a decision this month on the enhancements so work can proceed with designing the bridge.
He said the committee’s recommendation will be presented to the city council next Monday night. “It’s important to get the council’s input,” he said, because of the $500,000 it approved for enhancements.
Franklin County agreed to put up $250,000 and Warren County raised another $50,000 for the bridge project.
HDR Engineering Inc. is designing the new bridge. The total cost is estimated at $60 million, including construction and engineering and design expenses.