The Cottage Grove City Council recommended that staff move forward with a letter of intent for a grant to repair the Swinging Bridge during its March 27 meeting.
The bridge, which has been closed since the end of last year, is eligible for an Oregon Parks and Recreational Trails grant of $150,000. The letter of intent for the grant is due March 31.
"Staff feels concentrating on one option versus three options in the letter of intent would be beneficial in the grant process," city engineer Ron Bradsby wrote to the council.
During the meeting, Bradsby presented the council with three options from OBEC Consulting Engineers. While the plans were described as tentative, OBEC was able to include "ballpark" costs.
"The first option is an ugly, off the truck bridge," Cottage Grove City Manager Richard Meyers told council. The cost of the per-fabricated replacement bridge clocked in at around $370,000.
Option two would cost roughly $261,000 but would maintain some movement in the bridge. However, according to Bradsby, the recommendation for the second option would create a bridge that did not meet current codes.
"Basically, the option is using the existing bridge and replacing the aspects that have failed like the upper cables and the decking," Bradsby 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.
The issue of the city's liability soon came into play with councilman Mike Fleck inquiring as to whether or not the city would be liable if an incident were to occur on the bridge should the city decide on the second option.
"It's difficult with pedestrian things. If you build something and it doesn't follow existing codes, you are liable," Meyers said. Several residents came out to support the restoration of the Swinging Bridge with speakers commenting on the need for the bridge to remain as historically accurate as possible. They also noted that it was important for the bridge to swing
"Option two is going to give you the most movement," Bradsby said. "Option three will move when heavily loaded and option one will probably not move."
Meyers was quick to point out, however, "The move because they don't meet the standard."
Option three, which was described as a mix between options one and two, could cost the city as much as $600,000. And while council members noted that money is certainly a concern, Meyers informed the board that option two's price could also rise.
"The question is, if the price goes up and it is more than option one, do you still want to go with option two?" he asked.
Councilman Jake Boone said it would depend on how much higher the price rose and suggested tabling the discussion.
However, the letter of intent for the grant is due March 1, preventing a tabled discussion.
"I guess there's three facets of the discussion," Boone said. "The historic look of the bridge, safety and the cost." Boone said safety would have to be paramount and after hearing public comment, maintaining the historic nature of the bridge was a close second.
Dana Merryday spoke during public comment and informed the board that Friends of the Swinging Bridge, a new community group dedicated to restoring the bridge, was eager to help raise the funds needed to restore the bridge.
Resident Cindy Weeldreyer also spoke before the board, asking that the bridge remain as historic as possible.
"This is the one thing everyone agrees on. They want their bridge back," he said.
The council opted for option two with Mayor Jeff Gowing saying,
"I've seen that bridge closed for safety maybe three times in my life but it always comes back."