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Fox Point inches closer to taking bids on footbridge

Residents, trustees urge board to get on with it

Dec. 11, 2013

Fox Point — The long and winding path to a permanent, long-term solution to the Bridge Lane ravine footbridge might advance to the next step in upcoming months.

The Village Board on Tuesday continued to review the oft-discussed topic. The central question was whether officials wanted to hire an additional consultant to obtain another cost estimate for replacement of the footbridge.

Prior to weighing the merits of seeking an additional opinion, Director of Public Works Scott Brandmeier came before the board with a brief report on his recent dialogue with officials at civil engineering firm Ayres Associates.

Taking into account the construction work itself, inspections and a small contingency fund, Brandmeier said Ayres has whittled the construction estimate to about $1 million, down from previous estimates that ranged from $1.1 million to $1.2 million.

Ayres provided its previous estimate in February, but several specifics — including the nature of the materials themselves — have been tweaked to lower the cost estimate.

"We have this number," Village President Mike West said of the cost estimate. "The question is whether we need another number."

The board did not make any firm decisions at Tuesday's meeting, but it did hint that an additional consultant likely would not be sought.

Time spent is 'obscene'

Several residents implored the board to move along on the project during a public comment portion of the meeting.

Resident Larry Booth pointed out a number of statistics as he addressed the board, including the fact the board has been mulling the footbridge issue for five-and-a-half years. From his research, Booth said he believes the village has already obtained 27 estimates since the issue was first taken up in July 2008.

"You really do not need another estimate," Booth said. "You just need to put this thing out (to bid). Let's get on with it."

Booth summed up his most recent commentary stating, "The Golden Gate Bridge was built in four years."

During its deliberations, the board agreed with Booth.

"We've talked to more consultants in more ways than I feel is appropriate," Trustee Christine Symchych said. "The amount of time this has taken is just obscene. It's ridiculous."

In either January or February, the board is expected to discuss the steps in bidding out for actual construction of the project.

Friends still seeking donations

Plans call for private donations to fund half of the construction work. A local fundraising group, Footbridge Friends, has been charged with seeking donations outside taxpayer dollars.

Barbara Schwartz, president of Footbridge Friends, provided a brief update on fundraising efforts at Tuesday's meeting. To date, Schwartz said the group has secured $470,000 in donations.

Schwartz said the group is continuing its active campaign through the end of the year.

The original footbridge, which was removed this summer after being blocked to pedestrians in recent years, was deemed unsafe several years ago by inspectors. The structure is believed to have roots going back about a century ago.

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