After four years of sitting dormant, the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge may soon be seeing some action.Â
The Springfield City Council is consideringÂ an agreement with state and federal agencies that would make way forÂ bidding on repairs and improvements to the 117-year-oldÂ structure.
The city has $2 million in federal grant money and plans to kick in an additional $500,000 to add elevators to both sides of the bridge and restore much of the existing bridge.
But in a meeting last fall, city engineers worried the cost of steel and the strong construction market may make the project more pricey.Â
Part of that comes with bringing the footbridge up to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act.Â
Workers will be required to add elevators to both sides of the bridge to make sure everybody can use it, and a representative of the Springfield Landmarks Board encouraged the council to seek bids on a more expensive option to restore part of the bridge’s approach in addition to installing the lifts.Â
“Not only is it what we’re obligated to do as a board, when we asked the public … restoration of the entire structure as it stands was top priority,” Landmarks Board member Paden Chambers said Monday.Â
But city engineer Andrew Flippin said that may prove to be a challenge, since a large portion of that approach would need to be replaced with steelÂ â a commodity that has gotten more expensive in recent years.Â
Under city rules, the council would have the option to seek bids on making the improvements with or without the approach restoration.Â
Mary Collette, president of the Commercial Club, said she was just happy the process was moving forward.Â
“It’s a huge inconvenience to have it closed so long,” she said. “It has been a huge loss of income for historic Commercial StreetÂ â for our merchants and the district.”Â
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If the council approves the memorandum, the city would put out bids for the project in the spring and hopefully begin construction in 2021, Flippin said.Â
The council is set to vote on the proposal at its next meeting.Â
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