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Agreement puts bridge stabilization plans in motion

February 28, 2008
By Sam Shawver,
Marietta officials are still predicting that folks will again be able to walk across the Historic Harmar Bridge after the span is stabilized to handle foot traffic this summer.

Mike Stocky, city development director, told members of council and the bridge ad hoc committee Wednesday that a sub-recipient agreement had been signed with the nonprofit Harmar Bridge Company, owners of the railroad bridge, enabling the company and city to work together using private and government grant funding to restore the span.

“Now the company can hire the designer to generate the stabilization plans,” Stocky said, noting that the design phase, to be done by Barr & Prevost Engineering of Columbus, will cost $22,900.

“And since the cost is under $25,000, we can move ahead without going into a bidding procedure,” he said.

By city code, contracts priced at more than $25,000 must go out for bids before they can be initiated.

Stocky said construction would probably take four to six weeks once Barr & Prevost completes the stabilization design project.

Cost of the construction phase is expected to be about $80,000, but he said that figure could be much lower if labor is donated. The local ironworkers union has indicated that members would be willing to assist with the labor.

“How much has the city spent so far on this project?” asked Councilwoman Kathy Shively, D-at large.

To date $28,753 has been spent on preliminary inspections of the span, but the major portion of that cost was covered by grants from CSX Transportation and the Ohio Governor’s Office of Appalachia.

Stocky said the city has used about $8,000 from its Community Development Block Grant to help pay a portion of those costs.

The stabilization project will allow the bridge to reopen to pedestrian traffic this year, but a more intensive complete renovation of the structure that would turn the bridge into a multi-use path for both bicycles and pedestrians is expected to ultimately cost around $1.7 million.

Eighty percent of that amount could be covered by a state transportation enhancement grant. The city would be responsible for a local match of about $350,000.

Stocky said his department is pursuing more grant monies to help reduce the city’s cost for the matching funds.

Grants are also being sought to help pay for the initial stabilization construction this summer.

Stocky is submitting a letter of intent to notify the Ohio Department of Transportation that the city would like to apply for the transportation grant. If invited to apply, the actual grant application would be due May 1.

“Assuming it’s approved, that grant would be awarded when?” asked Councilman Andy Thompson, R-at large.

“At the earliest the funding for construction would be available in 2010,” Stocky said. He added that the city should know if it will receive the grant by August of this year.

Shively asked if the bridge would be able to be turned during construction if large vessels like the W.P. Snyder towboat or the Becky Thatcher showboat would have to be moved for repairs.

“Barr and Prevost said the turning mechanisms should not be a problem, but they will be part of the repairs,” Stocky said.

“We’re hoping it will be much easier to turn the bridge after the renovations. Now it takes eight men to turn it,” said Brooks Harper with the Harmar Bridge Company.

Ad hoc committee chairman Tom Vukovic, D-4th Ward, said the bridge project would now be turned over to council’s lands, buildings and parks committee.


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