The Burlington City Council decided to close Cascade bridge to foot traffic at its meeting Monday Night.
“I'm not giving up on the bridge,” said Mayor Shane McCampbell before voting to close the bridge.
The council decided to vote to close the bridge after receiving advice from Calhoon-Burns, an engineering firm out of West Des Moines, to close the bridge to pedestrian traffic.
“The Cascade Bridge is in poor condition and as such is a safety hazard,” the firm concluded in its report on the 123-year-old bridge.
Cascade has been closed since 2008 when it’s load rating was found to be less than 4 tons. Initially, the bridge was closed to all traffic but in 2010, the council opted to open the bridge to pedestrian and bicycle traffic.
Almost a dozen members of the public were in attendance and spoke at the meeting. Many were critical of the council’s lack of action during the past 10 years on the bridge.
“In the last 10 years, I have paid $100,000 in increased taxes even though I am getting a decrease in services,” said Terry Arellano, who lives on South Main street, south of Cascade Bridge.
Residents living south of Cascade bridge must drive through Crapo or Dankwardt park to access their homes.
She said she is in favor of closing the bridge, but wants the city to explore other options to reopen the bridge.
The cost of repairs is cited as the reason why work has not been done. Many members of the public pointed out the city has turned down grants that would have defrayed the cost of repairs.
City Manager Jim Fernaeu explained the largest of the potential grants was only $1 million in value. The repairs would cost more than $7 million to make the bridge safe.
Another frequent criticism of the council was the bridge was not a priority.
Members of the city council admitted while Cascade Bridge is important, the council has had other higher priority actions.
“In 2012, the city had to borrow money to pay payroll. When you look at that, yeah it was low on my list,” said McCampbell. He said the bridge has become higher on his priority list as the city is in better financial shape, but Cascade Bridge still is not at the top.
Members of the city council refused to discuss any potential options to repair or replace the bridge. This will be a topic of discussion at next week’s work session.
The council also discussed the TIGER grant at their meeting Monday.
The city is in the process of completing paperwork to begin work with the TIGER Grant. The biggest part to complete involves environmental regulation.
Public Works Director Nick MacGregor was able to obtain more than $70,000 in early money from the grant.
This money will be used for engineering services and the council agreed to enter into a contract with Veenstra and Kimm for those services.