GRANDVIEW - Since 1996 access to the Main Street bridge in Grandview has been limited to vehicles carrying less than 8,000 pounds per axle. However, following Monday night's Grandview City Council meeting, access to the bridge will soon be limited to pedestrians only.
"The repairs just keep adding up," Grandview Public Works Director Cus Arteaga told Council members Monday night.
He explained that the bridge, owned by Burlington Northern Santa Fe, is not being kept up by the railroad and by the last calculation the cost to make the necessary repairs to the structure would be in excess of $100,000.
"That bridge has been forgotten by the railroad," Arteaga said.
According to Arteaga, this means that over the years the railroad has failed to have the bridge inspected and is no longer working to make repairs on the structure. Arteaga said in the late 1990s the city talked to the Department of Transportation about the bridge and at that time learned there were funds available for the reconstruction of the bridge. But, the amount of matching funds needed was too great for the city to take on and the railroad was not interested in pursuing the funding.
It was following that meeting that the current weight limit was imposed on the structure.
Arteaga told Council members that the city has two options when it comes to the bridge that helps connect Avenue G to Yakima Valley Highway, spanning the railroad tracks that divide the community. The options include either closing off the structure to vehicle traffic all together or making the necessary repairs to the bridge.
"The railroad is not going to put up any money," Arteaga said.
He told Council members that the county was ready to inspect the bridge several weeks ago, however Arteaga asked them to put it off until after Council had made a decision on the fate of the structure.
Arteaga said he supports the recommendation from Yakima County Public Works to stop vehicle traffic over the bridge, noting that the city doesn't own the bridge or have the funds available to repair it.
Monday night Grandview City Council members voted to close the bridge to all vehicle traffic effective on or before April 1.
City Administrator Jim Sewell said the closure of the bridge will be in effect until the structure is either demolished or repaired by Burlington Northern Santa Fe.
Originally, the recommendation to Council was to close the bridge to all traffic, including pedestrian traffic. Arteaga noted that the pedestrian walkway that runs alongside the street on the bridge is a boardwalk-like structure, which over the years has needed a significant amount of repair. He said the city has replaced a number of broken and cracked boards, and noted that if anyone tripped or fell over the planks the city could be held liable.
However, after some discussion Council members decided they didn't want to limit pedestrian access to West Side Park and the community's rose garden. Council members decided instead of keeping the current walkway open over the bridge, pedestrian traffic will be funneled into the center of the structure.
"I would feel better about that," said Mayor Mike Bren.
Sewell also noted that in the future the city might want to look at working with the Department of Transportation to try and obtain grant funding to build a proper pedestrian walkway over the active railroad line,
. Elena Olmstead can be contacted at (509) 837-4500, or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org