Bridge replacement to cost City of Lansing more than expected; new City Code adopted

April proclaimed as Sexual Assault Awareness Month ... Lupita Solis, left, with Lansing Mayor Melissa Hammell at the Lansing City Council meeting Monday, April 18. The mayor signed a document proclaiming the month of April Sexual Assault Awareness Month and encouraging all citizens to learn more about preventing sexual violence. Solis is a bilingual advocate with Riverview Center in Decorah. Submitted photo.

by Julie Berg-Raymond

The project to replace the Black Hawk Bridge is going to cost the City of Lansing a lot more than was originally thought. During its regular meeting Monday, April 18, the Lansing City Council heard from Street Superintendent Ken Ripp regarding a utilities meeting he attended April 5 with the Iowa Department of Transportation (DOT). “We’re going to be liable for quite a bit of costs on that project, in addition to the lights,” Ripp said.

The Iowa DOT’s current estimate is around $192,000; but that estimate is expected to increase. The costs are for “re-doing all the water and sewer underneath the new section of road,” Ripp said. “The State will not cover City utilities. Normally, the State never covers that.” But, he added, “I didn’t think the City was going to get the full impact of it.”

Councilperson Steve Murray, who also was present at the meeting with the Iowa DOT, said, “I think that myself, Ken Ripp, Duane Estebo (head of the water and sewer department from PeopleService), and (councilperson) Bruce ReVoir had some wishful thinking that the Iowa DOT would pay for the aging infrastructure under the concrete road on Highway 26 - Second Street - leading up to the new bridge.”

According to Ripp, “the amount of water is going to increase going into our existing storm sewer, and it’s not in the best of shape; we were hoping for a cost share.”

“Nick Humpal from the DOT was clear, however, that the DOT is only responsible for the grading and paving of the highway leading up to the new bridge and the City of Lansing is responsible for the (underlying) infrastructure,” Murray said. “We were all surprised at the initial estimates of $192,000 that the City of Lansing would be responsible for.”

The council is expecting to get the final numbers in the next week or so.

“The City, however, would be irresponsible in not replacing the aging infrastructure under the new highway concrete,” Murray said, “as we don’t just want to bust up new concrete to fix problems that could have been avoided.”

“The City doesn’t really have an option,” ReVoir added. “Whatever final design is needed under the road, this is going to be in the City’s budget in the next couple of years.”

The City of Lansing is using its allocation of $139,000 in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to assist with its Center Street project - for which it recently accepted infrastructure and paving bids at a total cost of approximately $290,000.

Murray said that when final DOT numbers are in regarding the bridge replacement project, he and councilperson Curtis Snitker (both of whom serve on Lansing’s water, sewer, and light committee) will ask to be put on the Allamakee County Board of Supervisors’ agenda. “We would like to ask the supervisors to consider using some of the County’s allocation of ARPA funds to go toward this unanticipated project, due to the Iowa and Wisconsin DOTs’ decision to build a new bridge crossing the Mississippi River here in Lansing,” Murray said.

In addition to the storm sewer replacement under the new road, three individual property owners will be responsible for replacing their private lines because, according to Estebo, water and sewer lines to those properties will have to be shifted during the bridge project.

Following the third and final public reading of Ordinance No. 202 (regarding adoption of the 2022 revised Code of Ordinances/City Code), the council approved the ordinance, thereby adopting the new code. The announcement is published in this week’s edition of The Standard (Page 20). The moratorium on new construction within Lansing city limits will be lifted Thursday, April 28.

After concerns and questions about the new construction height restriction included in the revised code were raised by two area contractors at the Monday, April 4 regular meeting of the Lansing City Council, council members consulted with the city attorney as to whether they could make a change to that code item without having to start the entire revision process again, from the beginning - including three public readings, and requiring the extension of the new construction moratorium. The council was advised the change was too substantial to make at this point, without starting over.

“This is why we do these readings; the community is supposed to be a part of this process,” Mayor Melissa Hammell said, following the April 4 regular Council meeting. “All work on the code has been done during public meetings that the public is welcome to attend.”

The official copy of the 2022 Code of Ordinances is kept on file in the office of the City Clerk. Additional copies are kept in the office of the City Clerk and are available for public inspection and for sale at $10 per copy to the public.

Mayor Hammell signed a document proclaiming the month of April Sexual Assault Awareness Month and encouraging all citizens to learn more about preventing sexual violence. The document explained details of the proclamation: “Sexual assault affects women, children, and men of all racial, cultural, and economic backgrounds; in addition to the emotional costs, sexual assault may also have associated consequences of post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, depression, homelessness, eating disorders, and suicide; sexual assault can be devastating not only to the survivor, but also for the family friends, and community of the survivor; since no one person, organization, agency, or community can eliminate sexual assault on their own, we must work together to prevent sexual assault, support survivors and their significant others, and support those agencies providing services to providers.”

Lupita Solis, a bilingual advocate with Riverview Center in Decorah, was present for the signing of the proclamation. “Riverview Center provides sexual assault services in a 14-county northeast region of Iowa, as well as sexual or domestic violence services in Jo Daviess and Carroll Counties in Illinois,” according to information provided at “Our services are free regardless of biological sex, gender identity/expression, sexual orientation, immigration status, English proficiency, race and/or ethnicity, incarceration status, disability, or background. Riverview Center is a safe space.”

In Decorah, Riverview Center’s phone number is 563-3803-332; the Center’s address is 1111 S. Paine St. If someone is in a crisis and needs help immediately, they are asked to call the Iowa Sexual Assault Hotline at 888-557-0310.

People’s Service Representative Duane Estebo reported the following, for water operation and maintenance: A broken valve box at the intersection of North 5th and Diagonal Street was temporarily fixed, but a more permanent repair will be needed this summer; and the department offered help with a private service line repair on North 2nd Street.

Estebo reported the following for wastewater operation and maintenance: Manhole inspections were conducted along the sewer easement that runs along Clear Creek; and the siphon pipe and city hall line were jetted. Later the same day, with help from the street department, an abandoned “Y” in that line that had gone to the old city shed was dug up and removed.

Francis Garrett addressed the council about his desire to donate and affix solar lights to the city streetlights that don’t work right now, until such time as a streetscape project can be implemented in Lansing. Mayor Hammell is working with the Iowa Department of Transportation to get further information about pursuing this project.

The council accepted a bid of $231,500 from Skyline Construction of Decorah for water and sewer work on the Center Street Project. The council also approved the recommendations of the Lansing Parks and Recreation Department to hire Stephanie Vest as pool manager, at $14 per hour, and Patty Olson as assistant pool manager for $13.25 per hour.

Lansing Chief of Police Conrad Rosendahl addressed the council regarding the police department’s adoption of a uniform Citizen Report of Criminal or Other Suspicious Activity - a new form being made available to the community, he noted,  “in lieu of (making) anonymous complaints.”

In a letter to citizens regarding the new form, Chief Rosendahl described the report as “a tool that is used to document and report your concerns.” Types of reportable activity might include “excessive speed from vehicle traffic in your neighborhood, vehicles failing to obey a traffic control device, (and) suspicious drug activity.” The reports require inclusion of the complainant’s name, address, phone number, email address, date of birth, and sex.

Chief Rosendahl said the report would be handled with an assurance of confidentiality but noted that in the event of a case going to court, “the defense has the power of discovery” - in which case, the information included on the form could be revealed to the defendant.

Chief Rosendahl made clear that these forms are not meant to replace 911 calls; instead, he said, they are being implemented as tools with which a) citizens can file complaints - against public officials, for example, or on a variety of issues and b) a means by which the department can “provide professional law enforcement services to the people who reside, work, or visit the City of Lansing and New Albin… We assure you that all complaints will be investigated and taken as a serious and confidential concern.”

In continuing business, the council voted on a motion to approve a resident’s request to voluntarily be severed from the city limits. All council members voted no except Mike Manning, who voted yes. The motion to approve the voluntary severing therefore failed to pass, and the resident’s request for City approval was denied.

The council approved liquor license permits for Kwik Trip, Inc., and Quillins Iowa, Inc. - Lansing IGA. A driveway permit at 191 Valley was approved; and, contingent upon guidance from the Street Department regarding water mitigation, a driveway permit was approved at 750 Pearl Street. The council also approved the purchase of new banners for Main Street.

The next regular meeting of the Lansing City Council is scheduled for Monday, May 2 at 7 p.m. at Lansing City Hall.