The long discussed pedestrian bridge linking Stevenson and Old City parks took a step forward this month with the approval of engineering work, but additional costs will take a bit out of voter-approved bond funding if the bridge is to become a reality.
The city plans to place the footbridge in the same spot where a wooden bridge existed years ago, with the addition of a concrete path. An adjacent property owner, however, has asked for a retaining wall to protect his privacy from foot traffic between the two parks in exchange for the easement for the walkway. A final agreement with the landowner has yet to be reached.
That 60 to 90 foot retaining wall would likely cost the city between $65,000 and $80,000, or roughly $100 per foot, according to preliminary estimates.
The city this month committed $7,700 for engineering needed for the bridge project.
The $7,700 in funding was approved for the project by the prior council, but expenses for the retaining wall or fence – whichever is constructed – would likely come from bond funding.
“Has he been open to any other suggestions, or steadfast on a retaining wall?” Councilman Billy Enochs asked. “For me, it’s a surprise. I’d like to see options, cost benefits and pros and cons. It may be for aesthetics and return on investment, it may be the best option. But it’s hard to know that.”
The proposed bridge has drawn mixed reactions from residents of a nearby condominium complex. It was part of a parks improvement package approved by the council last August.
City staff said the funds available were for the bridge itself and not trails or related expenses leading up to it.
“The cost of a retaining wall vs. a fence is $80,000 vs. $5,000 or $6,000, right?” Councilman Carl Gustafson clarified with staff. “The construction estimate I’ve got here is right about a quarter million dollars. That includes the site work associated with it. This is getting to be a $350,000 bridge,” he commented.