13th Street Bridge

The 13th Street bridge over Parkway Drive could be the first to see work as part of a $20 million project to replace or repair 12 bridges across St. Joseph.

St. Joseph will begin the offering of the first portion of bonds for bridge repairs after voters approved $20 million in general obligation bonds earlier this month.

On Monday, the City Council will see a resolution that would authorize the sale of up to $6 million in general obligation bonds.

Director of Public Works for the city of St Joseph Andy Clements said this is the first draw, taken in a small portion in order to keep financing low.

“It is just the first lump sum for the project,” he said. “Of the $20 million total authorization, the draws for the authorization have to be certain level ... $6 million is kind of the lowest amount of money you can start with.”

In a study done last year, a dozen local bridges were rated as being in “poor condition.” Engineering firm Snyder & Associates, which performed the study, rated the 13th Street bridge over Parkway Drive as the priority for replacement. That bridge is more than 104 years old.

The nearly-97-year-old 11th Street bridge over Parkway Drive also was cause for concern, and both bridges were deemed a safety risk for falling concrete that could damage vehicles below.

Clements said the report from that study will be used to determine where work can start, but certain bridges will be spread out in order to keep from putting too heavy of a burden on traffic.

“Generally speaking, we’re going to follow that, but at the same time we have to be really thinking about geography,” Clements said. “So, if I were to work on the bridge there on Corby Parkway at 22nd Street and I also worked on the bridge at Gene Field Road over Northeast Parkway, I could potentially cut off a good part of the city.”

Other bridges include Lovers Lane over Northwest Parkway, Huntoon Road over Roy’s Branch, Easton Road over BNSF Railroad, King Hill Drive over South Second Street and the Fifth Avenue Bridge.

Engineering firms are now being identified to start the design phase of the project. Actual construction is expected to start next spring or summer.

Clements hopes to have the entire project completed within two years.

The general obligation bonds will be repaid through a 0.1210 increase in real property tax rates. A home with a market value of $100,000 would come out to an additional annual cost of $23. A home valued at $300,000 would see an annual increase of about $69.

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