Motorists in St. James frustrated by the annual road closure of Ness Avenue over Sturgeon Creek will have to wait until 2015 until the city replaces the existing culvert with a bridge.
Preliminary design of the bridge, which will be elevated to prevent persistent spring flooding, won’t happen until 2013, said city bridge engineer Brad Neirinck in a recent interview.
"It’s a matter of prioritizing the funding we have for public works projects and in our identification of that, that’s where the project fit in," he said.
"The culvert itself is structurally OK, the biggest problem is the flooding issue with it.
"It’s only an issue in the spring, when the ice will jam against it and it will flood. This year it was for only one day, so it’s not a terrible inconvenience, but (it’s) something that we do want to take care of."
Detailed design will take place in 2014, with construction beginning and ending in 2015, Neirinck said. The new bridge will cost about $11 million.
The city’s first priority, however, is replacing the crumbling the Sturgeon Road bridge over the creek. The 45-year-old bridge has deteriorated significantly since the 1980s.
Construction on a new, $13-million two-span bridge is expected to begin by February 2012 and be completed by November 2012.
"We can’t close two crossings over Sturgeon Creek at the same time," said Neirinck, adding he’s uncertain when the Ness Avenue culvert was built as the records of the old city of St. James "weren’t very good."
When both bridges are finally built, they will represent more than $25 million spent replacing crossings over Sturgeon Creek in St. James in the last decade.
The Hamilton Avenue bridge was replaced in 2008 for $2.5 million.
"When I was first elected in 2006, we were given a briefing on the top 10 or 15 bridges in the city that needed to be immediately fixed. All three of mine were in that list," said St. Charles city councillor Grant Nordman.
"We’re well on way in five years on replacing two of them, and in 10 years, replacing all three."
Neirinck and Nordman said the city will continue to monitor the situation at the Ness Avenue culvert, but said there’s little more that can be done at this time other than to continue sending a backhoe each spring to help clear the ice.
"We’ll continue to do that until we can get that bridge replaced at this location," Neirinck said.
"This is two weeks of the year this is a problem," added Nordman. "I’m sorry for the residents on Valley View Drive and Wharton Boulevard for the traffic rerouting and inconvenience to them.
"We’re doing what we can with the financial resources we have," he said.