Monday, May 2, 2011

County Commissioners Nix Crouch Bridge (For Now) !

Boise County Commissioners decided to pass on the design for the Crouch Bridge replacement submitted to ITD by Holladay Engineering. At the Monday, May 2, meeting in Idaho City, Commissioners approved a motion for an official delay in the bridge project, to allow for more evaluation, to come to a better solution for all involved. They are placing a weight limit of 5 tons per axle.

Garden Valley resident Richard Wilson, who has been actively involved in pursuing the delay, remarked, "It was a somewhat moot point, in that negotiations with two property owners have failed." We won't mention the information that came to light, regarding the possible unethical acquisition of signatures of the third property owners, which may have made it more moot in the final analysis.

 Jerry Flatz, LHTAC Federal-aid manager, said that 2012, 2013, 2014 are all full of other projects, and he anticipates that this project will delay to the first real open time which, money-wise, is 2016.

In an e-mail sent to the FHWA, Flatz  seemed to take umbrage that "the folks in Crouch think the design is a "big, ugly pile of concrete." His concern was that the town is basically saying they have not been context- sensitive, citing two public informational meetings and a recent public hearing.

Flatz wrote, "If they wish to reexamine some bridge options, we will be backing up. The Concept will need revisions. The preliminary design work will start over. The structural work of the Type Size and Location study will be redone. The hydraulic report and environmental document will need major revisions. Etcetera. It will be expensive."

Flatz continued, "I do not think the Consultants did anything wrong. They followed the direction of the Commissioners and the design process. They worked hard to please the folks that made comments at the first few meetings and all the individual meetings with property owners. But, other than designing a new wooden covered bridge, I don't know if we could have made Crouch happy? There are probably some compromises we can negotiate, but it will take time."

At the Monday commissioners' meeting, Flatz also said that they did not want or intend to build a bridge that the local community did not want, but that there are still monetary concerns that must be addressed to achieve a re-design, and that it still most likely will have to be a two lane bridge, if built with Federal backing.

Holladay Engineering Project Manager, Elwin Butler, sent the following e-mail to Jerry Flatz and Commissioner Jamie Anderson, on April 22, 2011. It will perhaps clarify how the engineers arrived at the design that inspired over 500 residents to sign the petition led by affected property owners, Mike and Marcia Hefner.

Butler writes:
In regards to the numerous questions that have been raised these past few
weeks, this memo is to assist with decisions Boise County and LHTAC will be
making in the next few days.

First, how was the current bridge design arrived at?

Alternatives were presented to the public and the County Commissioners at Public Meeting One.
The County directed Holladay Engineering to proceed with the least cost
alternative. The County did give the City of Crouch an opportunity to pay
for the difference of the least-cost alternative and a more expensive
alternative, with a different appearance. The City did not choose to spend
City funds toward the bridge. The County did direct Holladay Engineering to place the bridge as close to the old bridge as possible, in response to the citizens of Crouch. Also, at public request, the design should allow the old bridge to be used during construction and include speed controlling curves.

Second, is it possible to provide a design that requires a smaller bridge profile?

Yes, alternatives were included in the presentation at the first
public meeting. The alternatives presented included an 80-foot center span
with approach spans at each end. This lowered the bridge profile
approximately 2 feet and increased the cost of the project. An alternative
that was not presented, includes three fifty foot span sections with steel
girders. This would lower the bridge profile approximately 4 feet and would again increase the cost of the project.

Using steel girders allows for the lowest bridge profile. Increasing the number of spans also lowers the bridge profile. Three fifty foot spans with steel girders appears to be the range where the bridge profile is minimized per the increase of cost. To move to four spans will decrease the bridge profile less than a foot and increase the cost significantly.

Third, what is required to change the design at this time?

1. A new hydraulic study will have to be completed, with piers in the
2. The environmental document, Army Corps of Engineers permit and Water
Resources permit will need addendums.
3. Wetland mitigation may change.
4. Bridge design would have to start over, depending on what ITD Bridge
will require. At a minimum, the situation and layout will have to be changed
and approved before design could start.
5. Right-of-way would not be required to be changed but may be reduced
a small amount.
6. This would require additional funding for design.
7. This will delay the construction of the new bridge and may
jeopardize the federal funding of the bridge.

The above is a brief overview of possibilities for LHTAC and Boise County
decision makers. A more detailed review of alternatives, costs and agency
requirements is recommended.

Thank you,
Holladay Engineering
By: Elwin Butler, PE, Project Manager

Elwin T. Butler PE
Holladay Engineering
(208) 642-3304

1 comment:

  1. It is interesting to read what Jerry Flatz, LHTAC Federal aid manager had to say about citizen’s objections to the Crouch bridge project. Typical of a government bureaucrat, he showered scorn on the people actually affected by his project, as though they should be happy with the “big ugly pile of concrete” he wants to foster on their town. He goes on to say that citizens had two chances in public meetings to object to the project and that the designers worked hard to meet the suggestions made by citizens. Balderdash! First of all, the design chosen was not the first choice of the townsfolk’s, nor in those meetings was an artists rendition presented showing how the 7 foot high concrete and ramp design would look against the town setting. Crouch was told that the town would have to finance the cost difference for any option other than that chosen by LHTAC. Folks didn’t know what a monstrosity this bridge would be in those meetings. Despite what Jerry Flatz claims, none of the suggestions made by residents were adopted. The objections of landowners adversely impacted by this design were not considered. It was a “full speed ahead and damn the torpedoes” project. LHTAC chose the least expensive design, and that was that. Then Mr. Flatz goes on to say that all the studies (like EPA wetlands, water resources, hydraulics, Army Corps of Engineer and Water Resources permits, etc.) would have to be trashed and redone at great expense. And how is it that all these studies have to be redone for a different design? Oh, I forget this is the government we are dealing with. I say tear down the present bridge and replace it with a two lane structure not all that different from the present bridge. If that option fails, convert the bridge to foot traffic, expand parking at the east end, and let folks walk into town or to the park and library from town. It would also be helpful to pave old Crouch road to accommodate the increase in traffic.