City orders studies for two West Side bridges

The timeline for a Cumberland Street bridge replacement is further along than Fayette and Washington streets, according to city officials.

CUMBERLAND — City officials voted Tuesday to order engineering studies for design alternatives for new vehicular bridges on Fayette and Washington streets.

Mayor Brian Grim and the four members of the City Council voted unanimously to accept a proposal from the Wilson T. Ballard Co. for the studies. The total price tag is $77,000.

The West Side has three vehicular bridges currently closed after failing safety inspections. In addition to the bridges at Fayette and Washington streets, a third span at Cumberland Street is also closed due to its poor condition.

The Cumberland Street bridge is flat and has a 26-foot clearance above CSX Transportation railroad tracks. The bridge height is well above CSX and federal guidelines, making a rebuild of the span less complicated. In addition, Cumberland Street has already been approved for 80 percent federal funding, with CSX agreeing to cover the 20 percent balance.

The timeline for a Cumberland Street bridge replacement is further along than Fayette and Washington streets, said Bobby Smith, city engineer.

"We are waiting for the state to assign us a design consultant for the Cumberland Street bridge to begin the preliminary engineering of that bridge," he said.

Jeff Rhodes, city administrator, said the studies for Fayette and Washington streets will provide "engineering alternative designs."

The cost is $38,529.44 per bridge.

"They are looking at what the alternatives are for reconstructing those two bridges," Rhodes said. "They are looking at the type of design and what will work. It won't be the full design. It will look at what options do we have available to us."

Smith said the studies for replacement spans for Fayette and Washington streets, which include a rise or hump, are to look at the engineering and design solutions.

"This is not going to be a final design," Smith said. "They will look at all the alternatives for the structure and the design exceptions that we are going to need to submit to the state, that will allow us to deviate from code if necessary to make those sites work.

Smith said he expects Wilson T. Ballard to begin the first of the year and it to be a four-month design period. 

"You need to give that criteria and show why we can't meet the existing standards to help us facilitate the process," Smith said. "It's looking at the big picture. We have to initiate the design process depending on what funding source that we expect to see for each bridge. If we can use federal funds, those studies could be the basis for (securing) those federal funds."

Follow staff writer Greg Larry on Twitter @GregLarryCTN.

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