Lansing City Council commits to salvaging and preserving west portal of the Black Hawk Bridge, addresses other matters during regular session

by Julie Berg-Raymond

During its regular meeting Monday, October 3, the Lansing City Council approved taking possession of and preserving a 30-by-30-foot section of the existing Black Hawk Bridge - the “west portal” - after it has been detached by the Department of Transportation (DOT) during the bridge replacement project scheduled to take place within the next several years.

Brennan Construction has offered an estimate of $5,000 to move the salvaged section (that estimate does not include any re-assembly). Because the DOT already has to remove the bridge section in question separately due to its location over the railroad tracks, the removal would not cost the City anything - provided the City takes possession of and moves the section in a timely manner. The council discussed places where the bridge section could be kept while a decision could be made about how to utilize it - among them, a location near Anderson Park and a location on the river.

“The council is pretty confident they can find a good use for the saved section of the bridge, and we have time to figure that out,” Lansing Mayor Melissa Hammell said.

The work the DOT will be doing on the road section leading to the new bridge as part of that bridge replacement project does not include retaining or replacing the streetlights currently located just west of the current bridge’s intersection; if the City wants to keep that intersection lit, the City will bear that cost. While the DOT does not require lights there, the City’s contracted lighting engineer has recommended that lights be kept there so drivers can see the stop sign and see each other more clearly. The council agreed, and council member Steve Murray suggested adding the existing light poles to the salvage agreement with the DOT and refurbishing them.

“I’m not sure how old they are, but they have that cool historical look to them,” Murray said in an email following the meeting. “Instead of the City purchasing new ones, we discussed having the DOT set them aside and we would have them sandblasted and put new LED light heads on them. We would then put them back where the new bridge entrance would be, to light that intersection.”

Lansing Chief of Police Conrad Rosendahl addressed the council regarding a concern about people driving above the speed limit on West Main Street going down the hill by Expresso. The speed zone changes from 25 mph to 35 mph at the bottom of the hill, in the same area as a school bus stop.

“We were wanting to change the 35 mph sign in that area to 25 mph with hopes it may help people to slow down in that small stretch,” Chief Rosendahl said. “Since Main Street is a State highway, we can’t adjust the speed limit without permission from the DOT.”
That request for permission, Rosendahl noted, would involve conducting a speed study of the area. “We were told by the DOT that enforcement of that stretch was the best way to control the speeding.”

The council discussed the condition of sidewalks in town and observed that some have deteriorated to the point of being public safety concerns. Council members will begin a survey of sidewalks and notify property owners of needed repairs.

Andrew Boddicker addressed the council regarding a program of the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, called Iowa Great Places. “(The program) is a 10-year designation which gives the designated community access to one large funding opportunity within the 10-year period from the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs. In its history, grants generally run between $100,000-$400,000,” Boddicker noted in a handout to the council. In his presentation, Boddicker emphasized that an Iowa Great Place Designation gives the City extra points with other agencies as well, for other grants.

Boddicker said he was asking for the council’s blessing to continue with his exploration of the program. “I think it would be foolish to pass this up,” council member Curtis Snitker said.

The council approved forgiveness of half the sewer charge for August at 491 North Front Street. According to the Bill Forgiveness Request, “the pipe for an outdoor spigot broke inside of the old stone foundation. The water ran unnoticed for about a month because no one lives in the house. The water likely ran along the foundation and not into the sewer.” The amended bill amount is $235.94.

In other business, the council approved the following: a liquor license renewal for The Other Place; and a 26-foot-wide driveway at 40 South 5th Street.

The next regular meeting of the Lansing City Council is scheduled to be held Monday, October 17 at 7 p.m. in Lansing City Hall.