Jefferson Avenue Footbridge Likely Closed Until at Least Mid-2020

The Jefferson Avenue Footbridge will likely be closed through the second half of 2020 according to information provided to the Springfield City Council at their weekly Tuesday luncheon.

City transportation engineer Andrew Flippin provided a report to Council that said because of approvals that need to come from entities related to the bridge’s historical status, the earliest the bridge could reopen would be after summer 2020.

The crux of the problem is that the addition of elevators, which is required under the Americans with Disabilities Act, would have an “adverse effect” on the historical status of the bridge. The State Historic Preservation Office and local groups interested in maintaining the bridge’s historical status have met to come up with plans to mitigate the adverse impacts.

The budget of the project will also have an impact on the decisions related to how much the impact of the elevators will have on the historical status of the bridge. The current costs were estimated at $2.3 million out of a $2.5 million budget, but current conditions in construction will have an impact on raising potential costs.

Flippin told Council because there are a large number of construction projects taking place right now, bids for projects are coming in at higher levels than in recent previous years. This means that it’s likely it will cost more to have the work completed in a timely manner.

Also, tariffs and other actions by the government are having a negative impact on the costs of materials that would be needed to complete the project.

Part of the path forward would include two designs for the bridge on the south side. In the first, the lower cost option, the stairs next to the ADA-required elevator would wind next to the elevator, whereas currently the stairs extend straight from the end of the bridge to the street, over a plaza next to Commercial Street.

An alternative set of plans would keep the stairs in their original layout, however, that would bring additional cost into the project.

A memorandum of understanding on the project is currently in the second wave of approvals from federal and state agencies that need to sign off on any changes to the bridge. Flippin estimates that these approvals could be done in time to bring the issue before Council in November.