Study to Find Cost to Replace GI's Deteriorating Underpasses - KHGI-TV/KWNB-TV/KHGI-CD-Grand Island, Kearney, Hastings

Study to Find Cost to Replace GI's Deteriorating Underpasses

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Will it be a $1 million fix or a $15 million dollar replacement? Grand Island is studying possible options for its aging underpasses.

"Everybody wants to know when are we going to get something done," Scott Griepenstroh said.

You'll have to forgive the city's project manager if he doesn't have the answer to a problem most islanders acknowledge -- underpasses built in the ‘50s are in rough shape.

"By looking at them, you can tell there's some deterioration occurring," he said.  

A study that took place not even two years ago found no imminent danger. Now they are planning another study to find out what major repairs are needed.  

Griepenstroh said, "To find cost effective options so if we can get 30 more years of service out of these bridges or tell us, boy they're in such bad shape you better replace them soon."  

That worst case scenario might cost $15 million an underpass, and Grand Island has two that see a combined 17,000 vehicles a day.  

"I'm pretty sure a lot of people in the community don't want us to come tell them we're going to have to shut these down permanently," Griepenstroh said.  

Known as "the tunnel" by bands playing at the Harvest of Harmony, days after the parade last fall, the city closed the Eddy Street underpass for the kind of minor repairs that have been ongoing for years.  

"Funding is hard to come by to do a large project all at once," Street Superintendent Shannon Callahan told NTV at the time.  

That's the modern mindset. But doesn't appear to be the way city planners thought 60 years ago.  

Griepenstroh explained, "The thinking back then was wow, we have money now, in 50, 60 years we will have money again."  

But he said the money's not there.  

"Probably going to be making some hard decisions in the near future," he said.  

One decision comes at this week's city council meeting. They will vote to approve a contract around $12,000 to bring in internationally known experts to make recommendations.

Parson Brinkerhoff would determine the service life of all bridges. The contract calls for a final report 120 days after the city tells the consultants to proceed.

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