Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Bridge may not be replaced until 2020, four years after closure, council hears as it deals with sidewalks, streets

The Weisenberger Mill bridge, closed since July 1, 2016, may not be replaced until 2020, Midway Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said at Monday night's City Council meeting.

Vandegrift made the announcement as the council accepted a bid for paving part of East Stephens Street, which he said had deteriorated more than he expected, perhaps because of the bridge' s closure. Council Member John McDaniel asked if the paving should wait until the bridge is replaced.

The mayor replied, "All indications right now is the state is not going to do the bridge until 2020." He said a letter-writing campaign might change that, but "Stephens Street is in bad shape now and I don't think we can wait."

The state closed the one-lane bridge due to damage, probably from overweight trucks. It had planned to replace it with a two-lane span, but after objections from residents said in October that it would build another one-lane bridge after further environmental reviews and property purchases.

The council accepted the $60,755 paving bid from Lexington Blacktop Inc., almost twice as much as the $32,000 it had budgeted for paving. Vandegrift recommended acceptance of the sole bid, saying "We had trouble getting a lot of companies to put in a serious bid" because of the small amount of work and wouldn't expect more if it were re-advertised.

"My hope is we can get this done in the next month," he said. Stephens Street will be repaved from Brand Street to Mill Road. Other blacktopping will be done on Dudley Street, Gratz Street, Standish Place, Northside Drive and Spring Station Road. The bid and specifications are in the council's meeting packet, available here.

Sidewalk repairs: The council approved a process to subsidize sidewalk repairs that differs somewhat from the procedure followed last year. The city will pay half of approved repairs, up to a city expense of $1,000. While sidewalks are private property owners' responsibility, the city could be subject to liability or at least legal expenses from harm caused by poorly maintained sidewalks, Vandegrift said.

The mayor said the city budgeted $10,000 for sidewalks in the fiscal year that ends June 30, and he plans to propose $15,000 for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

Hicks asked if the first round of repairs eliminated all the dangerous sidewalks. Vandegrift said he is still worried about one across Winter Street from the post office, which cannot be repaired without removing three large trees. "I'm not a tree-hugger by any means, but I'd hate to see those trees cut down," he said. "that's going to severely change the way that stretch of Winter Street looks, and that's going to upset a lot of people."

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