Humboldt council discusses bridge

HUMBOLDT – The Sumner Avenue Bridge project was discussed by the Humboldt City Council Monday.

Bridge replacement costs are estimated at $2 million. In December 2012, the city was awarded a $1 million Iowa Department of Transportation grant toward the project.

Built in the 1920s, the 244-foot-long bridge was repaired in 1969 and in 1981. It is now posted with a 10-ton weight restriction.

A feasibility study looked at the bridge in 2010 – but its future was put on hold because of a lack of funding. The estimated daily vehicle count on the bridge is 4,080 vehicles.

Stan Stallsmith, project manager with WKHS, Mason City, presented the board with an update on the bridge Monday. His presentation included various examples of bridge aesthetics through the Iowa Department of Transportation.

The new U.S Highway 169 bridge over the Des Moines River in Humboldt built by the DOT is an example of a basic bridge with no aesthetics, Stallsmith said.

However, the DOT has received feedback from communities wanting the department to be proactive when it comes to bridge design. One example Stallsmith showed was a bridge with open sides.

“I like the design here. For a couple of reasons personally anyway,” said Humboldt Mayor Walter Jensen. “For 30-some years I’ve been driving down the hill. I tend to look to the right every time I come down just to look at the river, and the ducks are all down there.”

“I think we need to incorporate the limestone look in the bridge,” said Councilman John Sleiter. “If it is going to last 70 years, most people want it to look nice.”

“I’ve already had people concerned that we are just going to build a regular standard DOT bridge. Of all the issues I’ve faced in the last three or four years this is where I’ve gotten the most community input,” said Councilman Joe Hadar.

Aesthetics would add about 10 percent to the cost of the project, Stallsmith said.

The council agreed to consider proposed aesthetics. Stallsmith will present more detailed plans at a future meeting.

Construction on the new bridge is slated for 2014.

In other business, the council approved the second readings of several ordinances dealing with zoning changes recommended by the planning and zoning board.

The council set a March 4 public hearing on the proposed 2013-2014 budget.

City Clerk Gloria Christensen said total revenue is projected to be $10 million with total expenditures at $13 million.

“Our estimated total tax levy will be $16.20 per $1,000,” she said. That is an increase of about 80 cents.