Falls Council seeks River Park bridge inspection

by Jeff Pederson Sheboygan Falls News Editor

The Sheboygan Falls Common Council backed a proposal from AECOM to conduct an inspection of the River Park footbridge adjacent to the Municipal Building, during a semimonthly meeting Tuesday, May 19.

During a City Services Committee meeting, Rick LeMahieu of AECOM said the bridge, which was built as a Sheboygan Falls Jaycees project in 1969, has no official building plans on file and has not been inspected since the early 2000s.

“As far as we can tell the bridge has never had a load rating done, which would allow us to figure out how many people it can hold safely,” LeMahieu said. “The last inspection was done 11 or 12 years ago and at the time some upgrades were done, but there has been no additional work since then.”

Department of Public Works Director Jerry Benzschawel noted that heavy bridge traffic during large events at River Park, such as Ducktona, has raised some concern among community members.

“After Ducktona last year, I received several calls from concerned citizens about the safety of the bridge,” Benzschawel said. “Even though people aren’t allowed to stand on the bridge during the duck race, there is still a lot of traffic on that bridge for Ducktona.

“I was part of the crew that did the repair work back in 2002- 03, which included sandblasting, priming, staining, painting and putting in an all-new railing,” he said. “I have done some research and the price to put up a new bridge is $157,000, which is a pretty pricey number. In talking with Joel [Tauschek] about it, if we did put up a new bridge, we would need to really do our homework. There is some sentimental value with that bridge, but it would not be the same type of truss bridge if it were constructed new. Our goal is to get it inspected and get a report back before Ducktona.”

LeMahieu expressed that he did not feel that the bridge would need to be replaced at this time.

“I doubt it will need to be shut down,” LeMahieu said. “I believe we will find deterioration and several other things that need to be fixed, but I don’t think it is in that bad of condition where we would be talking about closing it.”

The council approved AECOM to perform the bridge inspection at a cost of $11,756, which will come out of the city’s capital improvement budget.

The council also approved AECOM to carry out an inspection of the Dassow Roller Mill Dam at Settlers Park at a cost of $5,000 out of the city’s capital improvement budget.

“The DNR mandates an inspection every five years,” LeMahieu said. “There is a lot of stress that is placed on the dam’s structural capacity and the last inspection resulted in quite a few repairs at an approximate cost of $100,000.”

The council approved an amendment to the city’s salary ordinance adding a line for police department IT support to be carried out within the department for $10,000 per year.

The council also approved operator license applications for Laxmi Devi Dhungana, Krystine Messner, Joanne M. Howard, Evan M. Klueger and David D. Weiss.

The council granted the publication of the 2015-2016 liquor licenses.

During the appearances portion of the meeting, the council reviewed a request for Odyssey Fun Center to hold a Bike Night event in conjunction with the AMA motorcycle races at Road America on Thursday, May 28 from 5-9 p.m.

The discussion centered on a request to have a D.J. play music and for alcohol to be served in the Odyssey parking lot.

Sheboygan Falls Police Chief Steve Riffel spoke against the possibility of having alcohol served outdoors, citing late notice in filing a request with the city.

However, Riffel did not object to the bike show concept.

Gary Beaudoin of the Sheboygan Falls Lions Club made an appearance to discuss plans for the fourth annual Lions Club Kohler Police Athletic League (KPAL) Bier Run scheduled to take place Saturday, Sept. 12 at River Park.

Beaudoin asked about the possibility of serving beer on the run route along Monroe Street between Sheboygan Falls and Kohler.

Sheboygan Falls Mayor Randy Meyer said the request would be forwarded to the committee level where it will be discussed at a future meeting.

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