Bluff Road Bridge

Sioux City is deciding how to proceed with the future of the Bluff Road Bridge, pictured above, near the former stockyards area. The council on Monday deferred making a decision on whether to replace the bridge with another bridge or to eliminate it entirely. 

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SIOUX CITY | Sioux City Council members weighed pros and cons Monday of replacing or eliminating a structurally deficient bridge in the city's former stockyards.

After examining how each would affect area traffic and future trail construction, the council voted 4-0 to delete the item so staff could bring it back in two weeks. 

Engineering firm HGM Associates Inc. presented three options to the council to replace the structurally deficient Bluff Road Bridge, which spans the old Floyd Channel along Bluff Road to the west of its intersection with Cunningham Drive. The aging bridge is currently limited to trucks carrying no more than 12 tons.

Options included replacing the bridge with one similar to its current alignment, a diagonal bridge with a skewed alignment or demolishing the existing bridge. In the case of no replacement, a new roadway connecting Bluff Road to Cunningham Drive to the north would allow for through traffic in the area. 

Public response to the project options have so far been minimal, but HGM representatives said that two businesses in the area had, when approached, said they preferred the first bridge option. Another had said it preferred the second. 

Public Works Director Dave Carney told the council he preferred the third option since it would save bridge replacement costs and not require ongoing maintenance. 

"The long-term maintenance of the bridge -- if we can eliminate that, I think that's the best option for the city," Carney said. 

Mayor Bob Scott agreed. "Get rid of every bridge and stoplight you don't need because all they are is maintenance nightmares," he said. 

The council also discussed what route a future trail link could take to connect the current trail along Cunningham Drive to the future Chautauqua Park Trail. Replacing the bridge with another bridge would allow for pedestrian traffic along the bridge, while the no-bridge option could follow along the planned new roadway. Both trail links would require an at-grade crossing across Union-Pacific Railroad tracks to the south to reach the Chautauqua trail. 

Another option would be to build the trail along the old Floyd Canal, gradually descending the embankment and passing under the Union-Pacific railroad bridge to the south to connect with the trail.

The council directed Carney to look into the feasibility of upgrading a railroad crossing to allow for a trail to cross the tracks, which Scott said might be more cost-effective and wouldn't require trail builders to disturb the old Floyd Channel.

Sioux City plans to use federal funds of up to 80 percent of the eligible project costs or $1,000,000, whichever is less, for the project. The remainder will be funded through sales tax and general obligation bonds.

Gilchrist Learning Center

In other action, the council voted 4-0 to approve construction documents for the Sioux City Art Center's Gilchrist Learning Center project.

The 11,000-square-foot building at 220 Pierce St., adjacent to the Art Center, would allow the center to grow its educational programs. The center is named for the Gilchrist Foundation, which contributed $1 million to kick-start the project's fundraising. 

With approval, a bid letting will start Oct. 7. It could open by October of next year

Everett School renovation

The council also voted 3-0, with Councilman Dan Moore abstaining, on the first reading of various rezoning and vacations requested by Arch Icon Development of Woodbine, Iowa, needed to renovate the former Everett Elementary School building at 1314 W. Third St. into 20 apartment units. 

Based on community feedback at the Planning and Zoning Commission's level, the council's approval would require that a future site plan for the project will go before the commission and council, as well. 

Portions of Everett School date back 129 years. The developer plans to construct two single-bedroom units, nine two-bedroom units, six three-bedroom units and three four-bedroom units.

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