Council votes to close bridge; power negotiations continue
By GREG STAHL
Express Staff Writer
The Broadway Bridge, which spans the Big Wood River parallel to the
Warm Springs Road bridge, was closed by a unanimous vote of the Ketchum City Council on
With a city engineers recommendation in hand, council members
shut down the aging bridge due to structural weakness.
At 9:30 Tuesday morning, concrete barriers were placed at both ends of
Pedestrians and bicyclists, however, will still be able to cross the
bridge, Ketchum city administrator Jim Jaquet said in an interview.
Two weeks ago, the Idaho Transportation Department (ITD) and the
Federal Highway Administration announced the suspension of $517,000 in federal aid to the
city if the bridge was not immediately closed, fixed or replaced.
The city is budgeting the federal funds to beautify its downtown in the
coming year, a project called "streetscape."
Jaquet sent a letter to the ITD on Tuesday morning, requesting that the
suspension of funds be lifted in light of the councils action.
On Aug. 4, the ITD wrote a letter to Ketchum officials recommending
closure of the bridge. The recommendation resulted from routine annual bridge inspections.
For the past five months, the city has revisited the issue
periodically. At first, repair was considered, but proved to be too expensive. In more
recent meetings, replacing the bridge with a rustic looking wooden or covered structure
has been discussed. None of the options the city council had considered went further than
discussion until the bridge was officiallyclosed by Mondays vote.
According to Dick Fosbury of Galena Engineering, the citys
contract engineer, "its clear that the (existing) bridge wont handle any
vehicular traffic and should be closed."
Fosbury pointed out the bridge is not even safe for compact cars, which
have a 2,000-pound test rating. Full-sized pickup trucks can weigh 8,000 pounds or more,
Galena Engineering, in turn, contracted work from Scott Basolo of
Basolo Engineering to determine the bridges safe load-carrying capacity.
"I would say without hesitation that under no circumstances should
any larger vehicle such as construction delivery, concrete, snowplow or fire apparatus use
this structure now or at any time in the future prior to a complete rebuild of the
structure with a newly verified load capacity," Basolo wrote in a three-page letter,
dated Dec. 14, to Galena Engineering.
Doug Aanestad, a Broadway Boulevard resident, said he was dismayed by
the news. With the bridge closed, the only option to access his neighborhood is the
Exhibition Boulevard or River Run Drive entrances from Warm Springs Road.
"The Exhibition entrance is unsafe," he said. "Its
an accident waiting to happen, and River Run isnt much better. Somebodys going
to die there."
To address Aanestads and other area residents concerns, the
council considered putting a stop sign on Warm Springs Road at the Exhibition Road
intersection. Ketchum police chief Cal Nevland discouraged that idea, however. He said a
stop sign on a road so heavily traveled would create more accidents.
Instead, following a recommendation from Nevland, the council voted to
install a right-turn-only sign for those turning off of Exhibition onto Warm Springs.
Other issues discussed or resolved at the meeting:
· The city council continued negotiations with Idaho Power to
put in place an agreement that would allow the electricity provider to operate in the
citys rights of way.
Idaho Power community relations representative Dan Olmstead was present
to talk with the council.
In an interview following the meeting, city attorney Margaret Simms
said the deadlock that has persisted in the negotiations for the past two years
didnt change at the meeting.
During that time, the city has attempted to negotiate for local power
lines to be placed underground and for Idaho Power to pay at least part of the cost. Thus
far, Idaho Power has refused to consider that.
"We want the power lines underground and Idaho Power is certainly
willing to do it as long as we pay for it," Simms told the council.
For now, the city will stand firm, Simms said.
· Monday marked councilmember Sue Noels last public
appearance as a member of the council. Mayor Guy Coles presented her with a plaque .
"I think this is the finest group anyone could ever serve with on
a council," she said. "I have grown to love everyone on the council as personal
friends as well as coworkers."
New councilman Maurice Charlat will be sworn into office at the
councils Jan. 3 meeting.
· The council voted unanimously to raise the fine to $25 for
those parking on Ketchums streets during the winter between 2 a.m. and 7 a.m.
Previously, the fine was $10.