The Dyersville City Council made another significant push toward a bridge that was previously identified as the city’s top priority by the citizens of Dyersville.
After a lengthy negotiation process with the relevant landowner, the council secured the necessary property to construct a bridge connecting 12th to 13th avenues, and while the land acquisition was essential to the project, it’s what comes next that will likely decide the financial feasibility of actually constructing a bridge.
The council was presented with proposals from two firms for engineering work for the project. Public Works Director John Wandsnider said that while both were excellent firms capable of getting the job done, HDR Inc. had better suited analytical tools for this project.
“A lot of firms can design bridges — designing a bridge isn’t the issue here,” Wandsnider said. “The big key for the project is the hydraulic analysis.”
Wandsnider explained that since they were looking at a floodway that is approximately 800 feet wide, the city is going to have to present a solid evidence-backed design proposal to the state to avoid constructing a bridge that is 800 feet long. For reference, if the bridge on 1st Avenue near Chad’s Pizza was 800 feet long, it would stretch to the James Kennedy Public Library.
“It’s imperative that we get an accurate hydraulic analysis that can help us to minimize that cost because that’s an expensive bridge if it has an 800-foot span,” Wandsnider said.
Wandsnider said while both firms can perform a hydraulic analysis, HDR’s modeling is far superior. After discussions with the DOT, HDR’s state-of-the-art 2D analysis will help Dyersville make a better case for what they want to do.
City Administrator Mick Michel agreed with Wandsnider, explaining that whether or not the bridge will be built is dependent on this hydraulic model.
Michel said while the $199,000 HDR contract wasn’t the cheapest option, HDR has the better ability to navigate the city around the obstacles being presented by the bridge project.
The council had budgeted $100,000 for bridge engineering this year, and Michel explained that with this contract, the council could include another $100,000 in next year’s budget as well.
“The biggest obstacle isn’t designing and building the bridge, the biggest obstacle is getting the regulatory approval to construct the bridge,” Michel said, adding HDR was the “go-to firm” for these kinds of projects.
Mayor Jim Heavens said he believes it’s the council’s duty to get a price estimate to the people of Dyersville as quickly as possible so an informed discussion can take place.
“That’s the decision we have to make as a community — whether we want to do this or not,” Heavens said. “I think the only thing that’s lacking to make that decision is a number for the cost.”
While the council instructed city staff to begin negotiations with HDR, final approval for the contract will likely occur at the next council meeting.