Fox Point still not in step with footbridge costs

Trustees decide against new estimate for now

The footbridge was demolished in August after being closed for several years due to structural and safety issues.

The footbridge was demolished in August after being closed for several years due to structural and safety issues.

Nov. 13, 2013

Fox Point — Citing a recently revealed cost estimate for replacing the Bridge Lane Ravine footbridge, the Village Board has decided not to immediately seek a new estimate and will take up the issue again next month.

For the first time Tuesday, village trustees saw a cost estimate from Ayres Associates, the engineering firm which has drawn up plans for the potential new bridge. Village President Michael West said the estimate, dated February 2013, was kept under wraps until he could review it.

At about $980,000, the estimate is among the lowest of the 17 estimates given to the village since 2010, which span a variety of construction techniques and bridge styles.

However, West noted, the estimate has its pros and cons. It's the first based on the actual design from Ayres, which the village would use if it ever decides to go forward with the reconstruction. But as West pointed out, Ayres' role as engineering firm, which differ from a construction company, leaves room to question the estimate.

"It was prepared by our consultant using the design they've created, so that's important," West said. "The negative is that it's prepared by an engineering consultant as opposed to someone who actually builds things."

Uncertainty an issue

On the agenda Tuesday was the possibility of soliciting bids for an estimate from local construction firms at an estimated cost of about $9,000 to $10,000, according to Public Works Director Scott Brandmeier.

Though the issue was later held over until December, trustees on Tuesday were nonetheless hesitant.

"I don't have a lot of faith in new estimates," Trustee F.R. Dengel said. "I don't think they would be that much better than the old estimates, and there is a lot of uncertainty in this. I think an estimate may give some false sense of certainty."

Trustee Eric Fonstad said that any estimate would likely be outdated by the time the village ends up seeking bids for the actual construction.

"I don't see a justification to spend any village money on this effort," Fonstad said.

Residents weigh in

As has been the case throughout the numerous meetings regarding the footbridge over the years, residents on both sides of the issue weighed in this week.

Longtime footbridge reconstruction opponent Bob Cory again suggested that the board scrap the project and put the funding into higher priority capital projects, such as the village pool or roads.

Likewise, Larry Booth, who has been a vocal opponent in the past, again questioned the board's tabulation of the total cost of the footbridge and decision to solicit numerous estimates over the years. Booth did add that he wouldn't be opposed to the project going forward if the cost stays at or below the historical $1.25 million estimate.

"I'm not against the bridge," said Booth. "I'm against the bridge being built for more than that."

Barbara Schwartz, president of the fundraising group Footbridge Friends, which has been tasked with raising $655,000, or half of the $1.25 million estimate plus the amount the village loaned last year to kick start their effort, said the uncertainty of the estimates has been a burden on their effort.

"Have you ever heard off a fundraising campaign trying to raise money for something with such an elusive final figure?" Schwartz said.

She added: "It seems like $650,000 would pay for the bulk of this bridge. That just strikes me as surprising. It seems to me like we've been asked to raise a lot more than 50 percent."

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