Bridge hangs on as council approves CIP

Jill Schramm/MDN The Anne Street Pedestrian Bridge, which spans BNSF tracks and the Souris River at the north end of Main Street, has been closed since being damaged in the 2011 flood. Shown May 22, the bridge has been considered for repair and improvements, replacement or elimination.

The Anne Street Pedestrian Bridge has survived the cutting block another time, but its preservation in the City of Minot’s nearly $613 million, five-year Capital Improvement Plan isn’t a guarantee of its future.

Minot City Council member Lisa Olson moved at Monday’s council meeting to delete rehabilitation of the historic bridge, damaged during the 2011 Souris River flood, from the plan.

“After going through nearly 25 hours of budget meetings in the last week, we’ve been told we have to make some very difficult decisions, and we know that there will be cuts in different places,” she said. “In the CIP, we have not set aside any money for a new police department, and I stand strongly behind the need for a building or revamping a building somehow to get our police department to the standards that should be acceptable in 2024 and beyond. So I can’t stand behind spending $8 million on a pedestrian bridge when I know that money could be spent in a different place.”

The CIP includes $950,000 in 2026 for design work on the Anne Street bridge, with $7.5 million in anticipated construction in 2029.

City Engineer Lance Meyer said his staff has been looking for federal grant dollars for the bridge.

“It’s a tough project to try to find grant funds for just because of where it’s at and some of the uncertainty around it and then trying to meet some of those federal metrics,” he said.

BNSF Railroad also is keeping the bridge in mind as it considers projects around the community that may fit into programs for which it is applying for federal funds, he said.

“We’ve been reaching out to different partners who may be interested in a project like this. It’s just been tough. There’s a lot of competing interest in the federal funding,” Meyer said.

He noted the bridge does not need to be included in the CIP to be eligible for federal funding.

Council member Carrie Evans said leaving the bridge in the CIP doesn’t preclude the council from adding a police building to the long-range planning in the CIP. Evans advocated for keeping the bridge in the CIP another year since no spending is planned in 2025.

“There’s no money allocated, so there’s no downside to the city or taxpayers of Minot to keep it in the CIP for another year,” she said.

Council member Paul Pitner called the bridge a “want” rather than a “need” but saw no reason to remove it from the CIP.

“I don’t see the harm in leaving it in there. I don’t intend on putting any funding toward it this year, next year – maybe the next 20 years. But I’ve no problem with it being in there because I do believe when you think about the future of this community, that project has a place,” he said.

Meyer said leaving the bridge in the CIP means his staff will continue to look for grant opportunities. However, he added, if an opportunity is found, the city will need to hire a consultant to put a grant application together.

Evans questioned why the bridge cost estimate is $7.5 million when it was $5.9 million previously. Meyer explained bridge project costs have inflated significantly because of the impact of federal stimulus money on construction activity nationally.

The amendment to remove the bridge from the CIP failed 3-4, with Mark Jantzer and Scott Burlingame voting with Olson. The council then voted 7-0 to adopt the CIP with the bridge included.


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