MINOT—Monday, Dec. 20, the City Council unanimously agreed to wait two weeks before giving its decision on the MI-6 phase of the flood control project, a decision that could result in either the demolition or remodeling of the historic Anne Street (or Saint Anne’s) Bridge that intersects with the schematics of the project.
In presenting the plans before the City Council, Public Works Director Dan Jonassan introduced the Project Engineer Jerry Bents, who gave a brief overview of the project.
Bents explained on behalf of the Souris River Joint Board (SRJB), that the fate of Anne Street Bridge is “ultimately within the flood control project; we would bring [it] into account of the project either way. If the desire is to keep it long term, we would reconstruct the south end. If there isn’t a commitment to keep it long term, then the cheaper option is what I will show you…”
In breaking down the project, he showed that the distance of flood walls and levees would reach from Broadway to Roosevelt Park, cutting through the south side of the Anne Street Bridge.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) recommended preserving the bridge in the following statement addressed to the SRJB: “Section 106 NHPA is to minimize/avoid adverse impacts. As a result, the USACE would recommend/prefer that the SRJB pursue options that would not remove the bridge.”
In speaking with the State Historical Society of North Dakota’s (SHSND) Architectural Historian Lorna Meidinger, she explained in light of the historical significance of Anne Street Bridge that brought many people together from both sides of the railroad tracks, “Flood control is an important issue.” Therefore, preserving the bridge would likely be their suggestion if the peoples’ safety is not at risk. Without a final analysis of what is being proposed, SHSND has not given an official stance on the matter.
In essence, the 3 recommended actions are as follows (see 8.3 on agenda):
First option--Bridge Removal (3B.1)--costs for demolition and historical documentation estimated at $210,950.
Second and third options—Preserving the Bridge (3B.2 or 3B.3) -- costs would range from $1.4-1.6 million depending on which action is taken. The current estimates may not be enough to get the bridge’s specs up to code and safe for reopening. Bents also noted that there may need to be a new license agreement written up between the city of Minot and BNSF if modifications are made to the bridge.
When Mayor Shaun Sipma opened the floor for discussion on this matter, Josh Wolsky, speaking on behalf of the Downtown Business Professional Association (DBPA) stated, “We reached out to each of you over the course of the day simply requesting two weeks to be able to digest what we learn here tonight and to offer you some perspectives to each of you on the larger vision and impacts of downtown that this is going to have.”
Minot resident Shannon Straight stated, “I think it is important to recognize that the Anne Street Bridge is the responsibility of the city of Minot…. The SRJB’s next meeting is going to happen after the City Council meeting in early January, and I think it would be prudent to give us the opportunity to put together a little more of a thoughtful way that we might be able to proceed. So, I would just ask that you keep that in mind when you think of scheduling.”
Alderwoman Lisa Olson asked the project manager what a two-week delay in their decision would do to the plans on their end. Bents responded, “Two weeks, I think, would really not be a problem from our end…a couple of weeks of float. I don’t think is a problem at all.”
Before the council agreed to postpone their decision for two weeks, Alderman Tom Ross stated, “I’ll support to postpone this for two weeks, but I really need to see something significant for me to support keeping [the bridge] and funding it at a level we are going to need to fund it at.”
After the City Council makes its final decision on the matter, the USACE must consult with the SHSND for final agreement before the project can get started. The MI-6 phase of the flood control project is scheduled for completion in early 2023.
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