Sandpoint Idaho - More money sought for Clark Fork Bridge project
By: KEITH KINNAIRD
More money is needed to pay for replacing the Clark Fork Bridge and rehabilitating the current vehicle bridge over the river, Bonner County Public Works Director Tim Elsea said on Tuesday.
SANDPOINT — More money is needed to pay for replacing the Clark Fork Bridge and rehabilitating the current vehicle bridge over the river, Bonner County Public Works Director Tim Elsea said on Tuesday.
Engineers at Forsgren & Associates, the Boise engineering firm handling the project, said Idaho Transportation Department Director Dwight Bower will ask the Federal Highway Administration for additional funding to pay for the entire project, according to
Through FHWA, state highway officials have obtained $6.74 million for the project, plus another $630,000 for engineering costs and another $50,000 for right of way acquisition. In addition, the county has pledged about $100,000 toward the project. But that's still well short of the total estimated cost of the project. The cost of constructing a new bridge, removing the former vehicle bridge and converting the current vehicle bridge into a bike/pedestrian bridge is pegged at about $9.24 million, which includes elevating part of River Road by about 6 feet to keep it dry during flood events.
Until Elsea learned of Bower's pending request, county officials were at a crossroads for funding the project. Last month, Bower told project designers the "hard cap" of new funds was set firmly at $7.52 million. It will cost an estimated $6.98 million to build the new bridge and remove the old vehicle bridge, leaving about $534,000 to pay for elevating River Road and improving the converting the current traffic bridge.
However, that $534,000 isn't enough to pay for either raising River Road or the bike path, let alone both. Elsea said elevating the road will cost $608,000 and installing the bike path and a new guardrail will cost about $613,000.
"The FHWA won't approve the project without a bike path," Elsea said last week. The FHWA is also adamant about the installation of a $60,000 guardrail.
Elsea was in the process of asking county commissioners whether to put that $534,000 toward converting the current vehicle bridge or raising River Road. If the county chose to spend that money on raising River Road, it would have to put up another $134,000 of its own money to complete the road work.
"Though this is a lot of money, it is doubtful the County could construct the improvements with our forces for less than this amount," Elsea wrote in the Nov. 30 memo to commissioners.
The county would then seek enhancement grant funds to pay for the bike path on the current vehicle bridge.
If the county chose to put the $534,000 toward the bike path, it would have to pony up an additional $79,000. However, the county would then have to shoulder the entire cost of raising river road.
"They've got to make a decision as to which of these new directions we want to go," Elsea said at the time.
But if Bower requests funding for the entire project — $9.24 million — and the FHWA approves it, county officials will be spared from having to decide whether to spend county dollars on River Road or bridge rehabilitation.
"I'm in limbo on this just like everybody else," Elsea said on Tuesday.
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