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Charles City sets hearing on Charley Western Trail bridge replacement

  • The Charley Western Recreation Trail Bridge collapsed into the Cedar River in 2018 while a contractor was starting to remove parts of it. Press photo by Bob Steenson

  • This is what the Charley Western Recreation Trail Bridge looked like before it collapsed into the Cedar River while it was being demolished in July 2018. The bridge was closed in April 2017 when parts of it were observed to be coming apart. Press file photo by Bob Steenson

  • The Charley Western Recreation Trail Bridge collapsed into the Cedar River in July 2018 while a contractor was starting to remove parts of it. Press file photo by Bob Steenson

  • The Charley Western Recreation Trail Bridge collapsed into the Cedar River in 2018 while a contractor was starting to remove parts of it. Press photo by Bob Steenson

By Bob Steenson,

The second round of bids to rebuild the Charley Western Trail Bridge again came in higher than the project estimate, but they were enough lower than the first bid that Charles City Council members indicated they are likely to accept one.

Council members Monday night set a public hearing to receive input on the project. That meeting will be held at 6 p.m. June 15, to discuss “the final plans, specifications, form of contract and estimate of cost of the project.”

The council had discussed the latest bids at a workshop meeting last week, and most of the comments indicated a willingness to pay the extra cost of rebuilding the Charley Western bridge, which was demolished two summers ago after having been closed for more than a year over safety concerns.

The city rebid the project through the Iowa Department of Transportation, and received two bids with the lowest coming from Godbersen-Smith Construction of Ida Grove in the amount of $1.39 million. The other bid was from Peterson Contractors of Reinbeck for about $$2.26 million.

The project engineer’s estimate for the cost of the bridge was $1.2 million, so the lowest bid is about $190,000 above the estimate.

City Engineer John Fallis said Godbersen-Smith’s second bid was $206,000 less than the company had bid in the first bid letting, and he said much of that was likely due to a less rigid timeline. The company had been the only bidder in the first round.

The city originally wanted to have the project completed this year when the first round of bids were let in January, but contractors said that was too soon, Fallis said. The current bid listing calls for the project to be started by Sept. 14, with a likely completion by October 2021.

“That $1.39 million for the bridge we have designed, for the bridge we want — it’s a good bid,” Fallis said.

City Administrator Steven Diers said with engineering fees and additional fees plus some additional lighting, the total cost would be $1.59 million.

The city has received commitments for $689,000 in public and private funding, including $329,000 from the Iowa Department of Transportation. That leaves $901,000 in a “worst-case scenario” the city would have to borrow in general obligation bonds, repaid through city property taxes, Diers said.

Diers said, “It’s a lot of money to borrow for the project compared to what we were thinking before,” but he agreed with a statement Fallis had made that reducing the price would require removing important design elements from the bridge.

Fallis said the the current bid includes the “bump-outs” on the bridge where benches would be placed, decorative fencing, and a bridge that is capable of supporting the weight of emergency vehicles if needed.

Mayor Dean Andrews said the city trail committee would continue to look for additional funding sources.

Also at the City Council meeting Monday night. the council:

• Approved a resolution proclaiming Sunday, June 14, as flag day in Charles City and encouraging people to attend the Elk’s Lodge celebration that day.

• Approved the first reading of an ordinance to vacate a portion of South Johnson Street and sell it to adjoining landowners Michael and Kim Wendel and Nicole and Corey Hawke. The land is not currently used as a roadway or pedestrian way. A public hearing on the proposal was set for 6 p.m. June 15.

• Renewed for one year the area transit agreement with Circle K Communications in Charles City to subcontract to manage the system, and renewed the agreement with the North Iowa Area Council of Governments that provides buses and helps pay for the service.

Ticket prices will stay the same under the new agreements, and Circle K will receive a 4% increase in its management fee, from $5,086 per month to $5,289.

Diers said everyone is happy with the service Circle K is providing. “They do a great job and we’re appreciative of their service,” he said.

• Approved a resolution approving an offer to buy from the Charles City School District for a piece of property near the high school and Morningside subdivision currently owned by the city. The school would use the property as part of its athletic complex there.

City attorney Brad Sloter said the school district agreed to purchase the property for its fair market value of $5,000, plus cover the city’s costs in the sale, estimated at $5,000- to $10,000.

The property was originally given to the city by the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, which has to approve the sale, and which will likely take “a few additional months,” Sloter said.

• Approved a city facade grant for $4,415.25 to cover half of the cost to replace the front door and one side window at A+ Nails on Main Street. Community Development Director Mark Wicks said the door blows open in the wind and the glass is not tempered or thermal and is a safety issue.