Village tries to bridge gap in project's funding

Range Line bridge's costs have steeply escalated since 2003

March 27, 2012

River Hills - Village officials will go to Milwaukee County and ask for more money to rehabilitate the Range Line Road bridge after learning about higher-than-anticipated costs.

At the Village Board's meeting Tuesday night, River Hills Village Engineer Mustafa Emir presented a sobering estimate of escalating costs for the rehabilitation of the Range Line Road bridge.

In 2003, construction costs to repair the bridge were estimated at $173,000. 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.

Casting in stone

The plain concrete bridge design has not been acceptable to trustees in past years. In May 2010 they asked Mike Carpenter of Westbrook Associates, the design engineering firm, to talk with the Department of Transportation about alternate plans that would incorporate stone into the design.

In December 2010 then Village Manager Tom Tollaksen signed a third amendment to the original contract for the bridge that provided for natural stone on the bridge. By that point in time, the bridge had taken on historic significance in the view of the Department of Transportation and its rehabilitation became more expensive.

A proposed fifth contract amendment with Westbrook Associates is pending. At a cost of $16,769, Westbrook Associate would complete the documentation to nominate the bridge for the National Register of Historic Places, bringing to total contract design costs to $98,645.

Available funding

The village had a federal grant of up to $190,400 awarded in 2004. The community must pay a 20 percent share of the bridge cost, which would bring its budget up to $238,000 for the entire project.

Emir suggested the board ask Milwaukee County for more funding.

"It's a zero-sum game," he said. "They won't be able to do a bridge somewhere else to do this."

The original grant is good for only 10 years, so if additional funding is not available, Emir said the Village Board could consider other options, such as applying for another grant in the 2015-2018 cycle.

Emir said that the 80/20 federal/village split would be, in effect, for the more expensive rehabilitation.

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