Not surprisingly, there are lots of folks wondering “what’s next?” for the Beech Street foot bridge over Oak Creek. I am one of those people, and continue to press the county for action.
Here is an update from County Supervisor Patricia Jursik …
The Parks Department has gotten initial estimates on the bridge replacement. The figure is in the ball park of $150,000. The bridge can no longer just be repaired as it was last time in 2010 when the flood washed it out. It will now need new bridge footings.
We have been exploring how to pay for this cost since it was not in the county budget. The Parks Department has said they do not have “cash” to pay for this. Parks is exploring whether there may be excess funds available in our capital budget. (This occurs when we borrow for other projects that do not cost as much as planned. Typically the county has excess funds in almost every year because of the amount of borrowing we do in both Parks and Highway among others.) The good news is that replacement of a bridge is an appropriate project to use capital funds (IRS rules).
I know the City of South Milwaukee would like this bridge replaced ASAP since there are so few routes across the creek for the subdivision in question. There is an estimate from the schools that about 200 children live in the subdivision and need to have access to a crossing without going to either Rawson or College.
If county officials can be convinced this is an emergency need, there could be an argument to get cash out of the county’s contingency funds, and it could be done without going through a lengthy RFP process. Without this classification, all projects must go through standard channels that require an RFP. If the county must go through our standard procedure, it will be nearly impossible to get this done by September. As it stands now, we should be signing contracts and getting the work started immediately to meet a September deadline.
So, where do we go from here? Supervisor Jursik pledges to continue to push hard to get this repaired as soon as possible, and I will stand beside her in making this case with the county executive and others.
We both know how important this bridge is, not just for school traffic, but for all of the recreational users of the Oak Creek Parkway – from joggers to bicyclists to dog walkers.
We will keep you updated throughout the work to replace it.
Also of concern are reports that people (especially kids) are going around the barricades and using the closed (and unsafe) bridge anyway. I have asked the county to step up efforts to prevent this. While the closure is frustrating, we can’t have people ignoring the signage and attempting to cross the bridge. It’s too dangerous.
We ask for patience. This bridge must be fixed for the long term, and done the right way.