If the Missouri Highway 47 Bridge Committee wants a decorative railing along the east side of the bridge, it will add $260,000 to the enhancement costs.
Committee members discussed the enhancements Thursday morning, and said they were under the impression that a cost estimate for decorative railing included both the east and west sides of the bridge.
The estimate, however, only included decorative railing on the west side, or the side with the pedestrian trail. The other side would only have a concrete barrier, which is required by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
“The original plans in everything we’ve ever shown have only showed railing on the pedestrian side of the bridge,” said Judy Wagner, MoDOT area engineer. “That’s the way we’ve shown the typicals the entire length of the project.”
The enhancement funding shortfall is $906,797, not including an additional $260,000 for the 16-inch decorative railing to be added to the east traffic barrier.
Wagner provided the cost estimate after the issue was raised at the Washington Area Highway Transportation Committee meeting last month.
The city of Washington and Franklin and Warren counties already have contributed $800,000 toward enhancements on the bridge.
Barrier walls on the east and west side will be concrete, as well as the barrier between the pedestrian and travel lanes.
Bob Zick, committee chair, pointed out that the Hermann bridge has decorative railing on the east, west and between the pedestrian and traffic lanes.
Committee members Zick, Mike Marquart and John Griesheimer, Franklin County presiding commissioner, as well as Mayor Sandy Lucy, agreed that the bridge would look “incomplete” without the decorative railing on both sides.
Marquart questioned why MoDOT needed the enhancement funding money up front.
Wagner said the city could look at borrowing money up front and that the city is eligible to apply for a loan, however, any loans would have to be approved by the city council.
“Right now, MoDOT is in a time of need for funding, as everyone knows,” Wagner said. “We barely have enough money to keep our system in good condition.”
Wagner said that the budget for 2014 is around $700 million. Of that, $485 million is allocated toward maintaining the system. In 2017, when the bridge will be built, the funding will decrease to $325 million.
“It takes a lot of money to maintain our system,” Wagner said. “We can’t spend the money on decorative railing in Washington.”
Wagner said she will look with the city and counties at a Transportation Alternative Program (TAP) at a later date.
Though decisions on enhancements must be submitted by September, Wagner said MoDOT will work with the committee to see what phase they’re in and the best way to move forward.
TIGER Grant Status
Zick said if MoDOT were to get the $20 million it applied for in grant funding, it would alleviate the funding shortfall.
The committee had received 19 letters of support by Thursday morning. Several other letters are still expected, Zick said.
If the state receives any funding, a total of 5 percent can be used toward enhancements. If the full $20 million is awarded, $1 million could be put toward enhancements.
A total of $600 million has been appropriated to be awarded by the department of transportation for infrastructure investments.
The city has unsuccessfully applied for a TIGER grant for the past two years.
Griesheimer told committee members that while he’s hopeful the state could receive a grant “don’t hold your breath.”
“This bridge was designed with a lot of thought by our committees, and a lot of folks beyond just the bridge committee giving input during an era when enhancements and grants for enhancements were the norm, and that pool through East-West Gateway is totally dried up. It’s just zero now,” Zick said.
Griesheimer said he thinks it’s MoDOTs responsibility to fund (some enhancements) for the bridge, especially since the community has kicked in some funds.
Enhancements selected include decorative railing, girder lighting, pier lighting and trail lighting.
Construction of the new span is slated to begin in 2016.