What to do with the Mill Street bridge — one that crosses over the railroad tracks by the Lodi Canning Company — was a topic of discussion by the Lodi Common Council at its Dec. 15 meeting.
Mayor Ann Groves Lloyd said the city was contacted by a Columbia County commission saying that they would pay to have the city get rid of the bridge completely. The city can also choose to have it changed to a pedestrian bridge — much like what was done to a similar type of bridge on Chestnut Street near Lodi United Methodist Church.
In 2016, city officials indicated that it had no interest to do anything with the Mill Street bridge and it was left as is. Now, if the choice is to close the bridge, then the city will have no way for cars to completely cross over the railroad tracks without driving over an appropriate crossing, as the Chestnut bridge was closed to traffic about 20 years ago.
Council member Steve Clemens asked if a pedestrian bridge was chosen now, could the council later change its mind.
Groves Lloyd said no, adding, “It’s do or die time.”
Council President Rich Stevenson added, “Once we say no to anything, we lose our spot on the Commission’s list.”
The Council was not in favor of keeping the bridge open to vehicles as it continues to deteriorate and be downgraded in condition. There would also need to be modifications and additions to the bridge if the city was to choose to make it safe for vehicles.
“The bridge needs to be widened and heightened, and with widening, you’ll lose driveways (or more), which means condemning several adjacent properties,” Stevenson said. “That’s the biggest (concern) for me.”
The Mill Street bridge would need to be widened in order to meet the required standards for vehicle use.
Council member Peter Tonn asked if it can be made into a pedestrian bridge, but have a new one built — possibly getting the same result for a cheaper price. Stevenson responded that the state would fund a removal, and there would be an option for a pedestrian bridge.
Clemens commented on how sparingly the bridge is used for any traffic, noting that vehicles and pedestrians usually find an alternate route.
If the Council chose to make the Mill Street bridge fully functional, it would cost around $1.5 million, with federal and state paying for 80%.
Groves Lloyd said that the county will do what it needs to, but then the bridge would be turned over to the city, who would be responsible for any further upkeep. She said that another reduction in grade by the county is forthcoming for the bridge. She added that she will contact the commission on final costs to see what the best option is for the city.
As a final point, Council member Suzanne Miller noted that it would be an added courtesy to contact those few property owners adjacent to the bridge, to let them know what could be happening in the near future.
Officer Lowe officially sworn in
Officer Joseph Lowe was officially sworn into the Lodi Police Department during the Dec. 15 meeting.
Lowe has 30 years of law enforcement experience, with the past 27 years all coming as a member of the State Patrol Department. He joins the Lodi Police Department as a part-time police officer.