Bridge plans raise concerns
How do people feel about the fastest route to Brighton being closed for construction?
Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT) staff held a public meeting at the Washington High School on Thursday, July 18, wanting feedback from Washington County residents about two proposed bridge replacements on Highway 1 — the West Fork Crooked Creek Bridge, and the Skunk River Bridge.
According to the DOT’s Web site the estimated cost to replace both bridges would be $2,044,000. They would close Highway 1 from Washington to Brighton while the bridges are being replaced. The estimated start date of construction would be from 2016 to 2017, depending on funding and weather, said Jason Huddle, DOT transportation planner for the District Five offices.
The detour would use Iowa 92, Iowa 78, and Washington County roads W-55 and W-47.
Chuck Emry, who has lived in Brighton his whole life and sits on the Brighton City Council, was very concerned about closing Highway 1 to Brighton completely.
“It’s going to be a major impact,” Emry said. “If they close Highway 1, that’s the lifeline for Brighton.”
Emry said not only residents would be affected by their daily commute from Brighton to Washington but also the businesses. He said the Brighton area has already being affected economically and this could impact the city further.
“When they closed Lake Darling, we don’t even have a close guess how much revenue we’ve lost with that lake being closed,” Emry said, “and now they’re going to close Highway 1 and hit us again? You know, it’s a double whammy for us.”
He said the Skunk River Bridge has been an issue for a while, but there were still a lot of questions to be answered before going on with the project.
“There’s a lot of stuff to be addressed,” Emry said. “I don’t know if shutting them down, is the answer but I mean it saves thousands, if not millions, of dollars of taxpayers money, if you do close it.”
Huddle was one of the DOT representatives speaking to residents at the meeting Thursday evening. He said the DOT knew this would be a big project that would affect many Washington County residents.
“We wanted to come out to the public and get a feel on if we wanted to do both bridges at the same time,” Huddle said. ”Or if we want to phase construction where we only do Crooked Creek, where we tear down and rebuild it, and then we move to Skunk River bridge, tear down and rebuild it, so that’s why we’re out here to kind of get a feel on what the local people want to do.”
Huddle said he wasn’t surprised by some of the responses he heard at the meeting.
“Kind of getting both,” Huddle said. “Some people would just like to get it over with and do them at the same time where construction’s only one to two years, where the more impacted folks might want to see it staged a little bit so the people in between the bridges can always have a paved route in and out.”