The St. Joseph City Council gathered in the Council Chambers at City Hall for the first time in months and approved a multimillion-dollar bond draw for bridges. Their next meeting could discuss mandatory face masks.

The council, city staff and public were separated in the chambers, where limited seating was available and face coverings were encouraged.

The council approved their entire agenda, including the authorization of $6 million in general obligation bonds to be used to begin the design phase of repairs and replacements for 12 bridges around the city. This item was the first part of a $20 million project to fix those bridges within the next two years.

Mayor Bill McMurray, who supported the GO bonds when they were sent to the voters for approval during the June election, is happy to see the project moving forward.

“We’re in great shape on the time table,” McMurray said. “This is the first part of it, we’re going to go out and get design assistance on all of these projects.”

He said he has been alerted by city staff that some bridges are in need of repairs relatively quickly.

“There are some that are in worse shape than others and there’s some that are in such serious condition that we need to get moving,” McMurray said.

Construction is expected to begin next May.

McMurray said he does feel comfortable continuing to hold council meetings in person at City Hall because of the precautions that are being taken.

During Monday night’s meeting, McMurray announced that the council, during its weekly COVID-19 work session, will be discussing the possibility of requiring face masks in St. Joseph due to spiking case numbers around the country.

“I would much rather appeal to personal responsibility than make another law, issue another order, but we’ll do what we have to do to prevent the spread of this virus,” McMurray said.

That meeting is scheduled for Thursday and will be held via Zoom.

McMurray said the city already strongly recommends using face masks, washing hands frequently and keeping distanced from others while in public.

Brendan Welch can be reached at brendan.welch@newspressnow.com. Follow him on Twitter: @SJNPWelch.