River Hills Village Board opts for compromise in bridge reconstruction

Getting a close look at the Range Line Road bridge in River Hills on Tuesday, April 17, 2012 are (from left) Village President Bob Brunner, trustees Bill Walker and Peggy Russo, and village DPW superintendent Kurt Fredrickson. Ernie Mastroianni photo.
Published on: 1/21/2013

River Hills - After years of examining and re-examining plans to repair River Hills' signature landmark, the Range Line Road Bridge, the village board decided last week to go with a middle-ground plan that incorporates both stone and less costly concrete.

The plan calls for stone veneers on the parapets lining the top of the bridge, repaving the surface of the bridge from side to side - eliminating the grass walkways on either side of the roadway - and reconstructing the stone finish of the bridge down to the waterline. To save money, concrete will be substituted for stone below the waterline.

River Hills originally received a federal grant of $190,400 in 2004, which, combined with a required 20 percent village kick-in, meant the total project budget was $238,000. A number of project and contract changes have since magnified the cost of repairing the bridge constructed in 1934.

The combination stone and concrete plan has an estimated price tag of about $751,000, village engineer Mustafa Emir told the board, coming in between a $547,000 estimate for all-concrete and $870,000 for all-stone.

"I think everybody understands this wasn't properly budgeted up front," Emir said, "and with things costing what they do, here we are."

Emir said he'll be completing the application for a new federal grant in about two months, which with a similar 80/20 split would put River Hills' cost at about $150,000, though there could be changes.

"You'll know before I put it in," Emir told the board.

Although the board reduced some of the cost by using concrete, trustees preferred the stone finish, which matches the look and quality of the original construction, especially considering the bridge may be up for designation as a historical site after repairs.

"We didn't want it to look like one of those shaped concrete bridges all over town," trustee Peggy Russo said.

Trustees said that they could live with concrete under the waterline, even if low water levels at times expose it.

"I don't think it's going to matter," trustee Wendy Walcott said. "I've seen these new bridges with concrete and you get used to it."

Village Manager Christopher Lear said once the federal funding is worked out in the coming months, the village can begin bidding out the work. Lear said with that timeline 2013 would be too soon to begin the work.