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River Hills faces its own bridge dilemma

Village engineer seeks more funding to repair Range Line Road structure

April 24, 2012

River Hills - Village Engineer Mustafa Emir believes the village will be able to apply for additional funding to repair the Range Line Road bridge during the current funding cycle.

In 2004, the village received a federal grant of $190,400 for repairs to the bridge. With a required 20 percent match, the village had a $238,000 budget for the project whose cost was estimated at $173,000 in 2003.

Since then, a series of contract amendments and changes to the bridge design have ballooned the estimate to $500,000 for a concrete bridge or to $870,000 for a bridge covered with stone, similar to its current appearance.

Village President Robert Brunner and several of the trustees along with Director of Public Works Kurt Fredrickson took a close look at the bridge, both surface and underpinnings, before their April 18 board meeting.

The stone pillars supporting the bridge show signs of damage from frost or from being struck by debris in the Milwaukee River. In the arches under the bridge, some concrete was pitted and damaged.

The roadway shows little sign of aging at this point.

Although the best views of the bridge are from the river, the stone-covered walls along the road are a special feature.

"What you see on top as you drive by is more important than what's under the bridge," Trustee Wendy Walcott said.

One design alternative would involve wrapping the pillars or piers with a concrete collar rather than going through the expensive repair that involves "dewatering" the area around the bridge so that the stonework can be replaced.

"As soon as I have a high level of confidence about getting the (additional) funding, we can work on these things," Emir said. "If we have the money I think we can get the bridge we want without being extravagant."

Emir said he will continue working with Milwaukee County and the Department of Transportation on securing additional funding. The grant awarded in 2004 must be used within 10 years.

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