County considers replacing 2 pedestrian bridges

Otha Johnson of Gainesville navigates his bike across the 53rd Avenue wooden bridge on his way to work Tuesday morning. The bridge has been damaged since the hurricanes, and the county public works department has announced it's taking bids for its repair.

TRACY WILCOX/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, January 28, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 28, 2005 at 12:01 a.m.
Foot traffic soon could get expensive. Replacement costs for two pedestrian bridges damaged during last fall's hurricane season are expected to exceed $100,000, said Dave Cerlanek, county engineer and assistant public works director.
It's more cost-effective to tear down the 15- to 20-year-old bridges on NW 53rd Avenue and install prefabricated bridges rather than make repairs, he said.
A 5-foot-wide crater washed away the edge of one bridge, causing a side to collapse, while the other bridge sustained structural damages. The Public Works Department placed 6-foot high mounds of dirt and crime-scene tape at both ends of the damaged bridges, hoping to keep pedestrians away. The bridges cross small ravines.
For the past year, the Pubic Works Department and the Gainesville Regional Utilities have discussed sharing the cost of replacing the antiquated bridges, Cerlanek said. GRU explored ways to attach 36-inch water main pipes to the bridges - used to bring drinking water to the western parts of the county - but the pipes were too large and heavy for the bridges to sustain, said John Gifford, a senior utility engineer at GRU.
If GRU was able to attach the pipes, it would have cost the department less than installing the pipes underground. It would have also helped the county "save a little piece of money" by sharing the cost of replacing the bridges with GRU, Cerlanek said.
"We just thought we'd think outside the box," he said.
But the county will have to shoulder the full cost of the repairs. If the Alachua County Commission accepts a bid, it is expected to take three to five months to replace the bridges and repave the pedestrian path, Cerlanek said.

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