Cottage Grove City councilors were shocked at a March 12 agenda item that called for their permission to apply for a grant to repair the Swinging Bridge. The document placed in front of them showed the price jumping to more than $750,000. But, it was incorrect.
The price was actually closer to $1 million.
A call had come in after informational packets for the city council meeting had been completed and the actual cost estimate for repairing the Swinging Bridge was $950,805.50.
The estimate was completed by OBEC—the company the city uses for bridge inspections and design work—as a way for the council to have an accurate number as it prepares to apply for grants to fix the bridge that has been out of commission for more than a year.
The actual cost of the bridge is approximately $500,000—up from 12 months ago when the board was presented with three options to replace the bridge. During the March 27, 2017 city council meeting, city engineer Ron Bradsby informed the board that a replacement structure that would have similar movement to the current Swinging Bridge would cost approximately $260,000. It was the option the board voted to support but according to Bradsby at the time, the option would create a bridge that did not meet state codes.
"Basically, the option is using the existing bridge and replacing the aspects that have failed like the upper cables and the decking," Bradsby previously told The Sentinel. While the replacements would enable to bridge to swing, OBEC reported that it would exceed the 50 pounds per lineal foot safety standard.
Public Works and Development Director Faye Stewart was not on the job last year and said he’s not sure where the costs laid out at the March 27 meeting came from. Speaking on current costs, he said the estimate includes approximately 30 percent in contingency fees which he noted was high. Other than the $500,000 in construction costs and the contingency funds, Stewart said the remainder of the estimate is engineering and design fees.
“We are going to try to do the majority of the design and engineering in-house,” he said. “We have two civil engineers who can do a lot of the work.”
The city is currently applying for three grants which would garner $350,000 but that money could not be utilized for design or engineering.
“We could come to a place where we get donations of the product,” Stewart said, noting that timber or steel companies could donate materials to the bridge repair.
The community has already been doing its part with Friends of the Cottage Grove Swinging Bridge—a group dedicated to raising funds for the bridge’s repair—popping up last year. The city also implemented a donation program through its water billing that allows residents to “round-up” and donate the difference between their bill total and the closest dollar amount to the bridge. At last count, the fundraising effort had raised nearly $3,000.
“It’s important that people don’t get discouraged and say they haven’t raised a lot of money,” Stewart said. “Because what they’re doing is showing community support and that helps in the grant process.”
Friends of the Swinging Bridge are holding a benefit for the bridge on March 24 at the armory beginning at 6 p.m.