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Minot City Council removes Anne Street Bridge from improvement plan

Council strikes pedestrian bridge from plan

The Minot City Council has approved a five-year Capital Improvement Plan that includes more than $335 million in projects but no Anne Street Pedestrian Bridge renovation.

The council stripped out the $1.9 million bridge project before adopting the plan Monday. The plan will serve as a guide in considering major spending, including the flood control project, from 2021 through 2025.

Josh Wolsky, interim director for the Downtown Business & Professional Association, offered the association’s support for the bridge project.

“We’ve done a number of planning exercises throughout this community over the last many years, and they all speak to issues like connectivity, transportation alternatives that encourage walking and biking, and people-centric locations that create spaces for people as opposed to prioritizing automobiles. They speak to making the river a central point of our community, and in all of these areas, the Anne Street Bridge is an asset,” Wolsky said.

He also urged the council not to give up the property easement from the railroad associated with the bridge.

“When we let go of this bridge, we will in all likelihood be letting go of our opportunity to cross the tracks in that location forever,” Wolsky said. “Before you decide on the fate of the bridge, I would ask you to simply imagine with me the potential that we have in this location and ask not whether we should invest in it but what more we should invest to turn it into a truly remarkable structure for this community.”

He also called it an “inopportune time to remove a vital piece of infrastructure” from the plan because of the potential for federal infrastructure and pandemic dollars.

Council member Tom Ross said the city has projects that need attention more than a bridge that has been out of service for some time.

“I’m not saying I’m against the bridge. In no way am I saying, ‘Tear it down,'” Ross said. “I’m saying, ‘Let’s push it to the back burner, focus on the capital improvement projects that are important for infrastructure and safety for our residents.”

Mayor Shaun Sipma noted costs have increased significantly since the $1.9 million estimate was made for rehabilitating the bridge. He agreed with Ross’ suggestion that bridge supporters seek grants to help with repair.

The bridge had been scheduled for design work next year, with construction in 2023.

The council voted 6-1 to approve the Capital Improvement Plan without the Anne Street Bridge. Council member Carrie Evans, who supported the plan with the bridge project, had asked to split the motion so she could vote in support of both the bridge and the final plan. When that split didn’t happen, she voted against the motion.

State and federal money accounts for more than $174 million of the funding for the Capital Improvement Plan. The $1.9 million for the Anne Street bridge had been local tax dollars. The council can choose to not levy those dollars or levy them for another purpose.

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