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Group: Not the Right Time for Red Gate Bridge

A group of residents have questions about the justification for the proposed $30 million bridge.

A group of St. Charles residents want the city to take another look at the support for pursuing the Red Gate Bridge project.

Members of Concerned Coalition for Sensible Spending are saying that now is not the right time to build the newest proposed Fox River crossing.

While the group's President Mark Prieve believes that he would benefit by having another bridge, he said the people in the group are concerned about the city trying to build the $30 million bridge in the midst of an economic downtown and would like residents to have a second chance to sound off in survey concerning the bridge.

“Let’s do another survey … that’s what we’re asking for,” Prieve said.

Proponents of the bridge have said that it will provide another access across river, easing traffic downtown and improve public safety, among other reasons.

Opposition to the bridge project is varied, and might be growing if Prieve’s group is any indication. They are the latest voice to speak up as the bridge project, which broke ground on Thursday, has revved up in recent years.

During the groundbreaking, officials acknowledged a general concern voiced by residents of Wayne, located north of St. Charles.

The bridge would funnel traffic from Red Gate Road on the west side and connect with Route 25. Army Trail Road, which runs through Wayne, is near the project connection.

Prieve said that others, including at least one homeowners association near the proposed bridge site, have voiced concerns that range from general safety issues to how much benefit will residents actually get out of another bridge in the area. Specifically, while the bike and foot path in the projects first phase are fine for the group, timing for pursing the bridge itself is premature, Prieve said.

Also on Thursday, Kane County Board Chairwoman Karen McConnaughay recalled her experience with the Stearns Road Bridge, a county project built a little more than one mile to the north of where the Red Gate Bridge will go.

Prieve said that this proximity, and a number of other considerations, should prompt a new look at the justification for the proposed bridge.

At the groundbreaking, St. Charles Mayor Don DeWitte told the gathered crowd of about 100 people that included local, county and state officials, of the "unwavering support" for the bridge over the years and that “no candidate" regardless of office being sought, who has run opposing this project, has ever been elected to public office.”

“Like the Prairie Street Bridge before it, initially labeled by uninformed critics as the ‘Bridge To Nowhere,’ a moniker some people have tried to attach to this project,” DeWitte said, “that ‘Bridge To Nowhere’ now carries an excess of 10,000 vehicle a day that must be going somewhere.”

Recent criticism, at least the kind coming from the Prieve’s group, is focused on the very justifications that are propelling city officials.

One survey, taken in 2009, indicted a 65 percent approval rating for the bridge.

Prieve said he believes the survey was flawed in including local residents—up to 40 percent, according to Prieve—who don’t live within the boundaries of St. Charles. He would like to see a new analysis of support for the project.

“They do that, I think that 65 percent they got in the first survey in '09,” Prieve said, “I think they’ll get vastly different results.”

“If everyone came out and it was overwhelming … we would completely back up off this issue,” he added.

The group also questions whether reducing traffic downtown, where Prieve said businesses would want more potential customers, is such a good idea. He also sees the issuance of bonds the city has proposed to partially pay for the bridge as a “tax” on resident.

D. Niel August 30, 2011 at 10:40 PM
In 1999 the estimated cost of the bridge was $17 million adjusted for inflation in 2011 that amount calculates to $23,053,265.
Vanessa Bell-LaSota August 31, 2011 at 03:19 AM
DJN, I am quoting the Chicago Tribune 3/21/99 interview of Kane County Board Chairman McCoy, quoting him, "That span would cost 10 million to 15 million and would require much less intergovernmental cooperation than a regional bridge."
D. Niel August 31, 2011 at 10:16 PM
vanessa2, I was quoting the original bridge study dated 1999. It's a primary reference available online. I think we always need to figure in the cost of inflation. Especially when it takes 12 years to complete a task.
Vanessa Bell-LaSota September 01, 2011 at 05:07 PM
DJN, Thanks, I have all related documents and anecdotal accounts by research and by FOIA, well beyond what is available online. My documents extend back through all phases of the project and those of the entire river corridor, well beyond what the city site provides. Including, from an article in the 2010 KC Chronicle, "The construction project is expected to cost between $18 million and $22 million, Koenen said." So, would inflation account for the 8-13 million increase, DJN? The facts are, the city does not know the cost of the project, because they have only a 10% partial plan to date, submitted from Benesch & Co. engineers to independent experts involved who must determine cost and safety. And the cost of safety. That is the bottom line.
D. Niel September 02, 2011 at 09:23 AM
vanessa2, your above statement says in 1999 the bridge would cost $10-15 million but the city documents from 1999 say the bridge would cost $17 million. I am using figures provided by the city to be accurate. If you take the projected $17 million dollars from1999 and adjust it with an inflation calculator (you can find one online) The cost calculates out to over 23 million dollars. So the projected cost has increased by $7 million dollars due to inflation alone! So the 18-22 million you are stating the bridge will cost i less than inflation. I am working with the facts. 23 million is in line with the original projected costs. Building a bridge might have some unknown surprises that could increase costs. I am sure you have specific information regarding potential cost overruns as well.

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