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News covering policy and issues related to city and county governments in the Ozarks.

Springfield City Council Weighs Options for Jefferson Avenue Footbridge

Springfield City Council has taken steps towards deciding what to do about the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge.  During a workshop Tuesday night they looked at five options, presented by Spencer Jones, an engineer with Great River Engineering:

A.) Do Nothing.  Demolition of the bridge is estimated to cost $410,000

B.) Minimal Rehab with Future Replacement.  The option includes a minimal rehab today with a replacement structure in 2029.  Initial cost would be $2.3 million with a cumulative cost of $10.9 million

Jefferson Avenue Footbridge
Credit Scott Harvey / KSMU
Jefferson Avenue Footbridge, closed since March 2016 to investigate the structure's health.

C.) Preserve the Original Bridge.  Provide a full rehab today and rehab every 24 years.  This option has an initial cost of $2.8 million with a cumulative cost of $16.8 million

D.) Full Rehab with Future Replacement.  A replacement bridge would be built in 2041.  The initial cost would be $2.8 million with a cumulative cost of $8.4 million

E.) Replacement.  Remove the existing bridge and construct a replacement bridge.  Initial cost would be $3 million with a cumulative cost of $8 million

A survey about what to do with the footbridge had 87 percent of respondents saying they were in favor of Option C, which preserves the original bridge with an initial cost of $2.8 million and rehabs it every 24 years with a cumulative cost of $16.8 million.

Springfield residents spoke both for and against saving the bridge.  Tim Havens said, while he agrees history needs to be preserved, some things, which would require public money to save, need to be let go.

"I know in this survey of 500 people the majority want to do this, but 168,000 people live here," he said.

James Robert has lots of memories of the footbridge.  His grandparents owned Robert’s Music and Book Store on Commercial Street from 1951 to 1984.  He reminisced about growing up around the footbridge.

"I remember growing up and looking at it and seeing the trains go under.  It was just awesome, and I can't picture Commercial Street without this bridge," he said.

Before they convened last night, City Council gave the go ahead to spend approximately $200,000 for the structural design phase of the preservation.  According to the city, limited bridge funds are available through the 1/8-cent transportation sales tax.  Council also directed staff to create a thorough funding proposal that includes construction and ongoing maintenance costs to keep the bridge preserved.  The city says public and private funds will be needed. 

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