City seeking grant approval for downtown bridge removal, drainage upgrades

City seeking grant approval for downtown bridge removal, drainage upgrades

City officials are hoping the second time is the charm in winning a grant that will help remove the underground bridge on Harrison Ave., make improvements to downtown stormwater issues and add roundabouts.

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In a special meeting Monday evening, the Guthrie city council unanimously voted 6-0 to apply for the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG) Surface Transportation Block Grant.

The special meeting can be viewed following this article.

The City applied for the grant a year ago, but was not approved. City officials are more optimistic this time around in earning the competitive 80-20 grant.

If approved, the project will remove the bridge under Harrison Avenue, add three roundabouts and address a substantial portion of the stormwater issues in the downtown area.

In June 2017, part of Harrison Ave. (in front of Jelsma Stadium) was closed off following a bridge inspection. Related articlePortion of downtown road closed down due to inadequate underground bridge

In the 1930’s, the railroad system was taken out and Jelsma Stadium was constructed, but the Harrison Ave. bridge was not removed. Instead, the street was widened and the bridge was paved over. The bridge does not serve a purpose.

To correct the issue, the bridge would be removed, a retaining wall would be built against the interior of the sandstone wall of Jelsma Stadium and filled in with flowable fill (a self-compacting low strength material).

Stormwater Drainage Issues

With the grant, City officials are hoping to address the water drainage in downtown.

One of the primary downtown stormwater drainage systems, built in the early 1900’s, runs from the Masonic Temple to Wentz St. and from Division St. to Wentz St. The collected water then runs under Jelsma Stadium, Squires Field, Guthrie Fire Department and into Snake Creek.

During a big rain event, the capacity of the existing system is not adequate and often times leads to localize flooding on roadways, inside downtown buildings and onto Jelsma Stadium.

The drainage improvements would include a second primary line on Wentz St. from Cleveland Ave. to Harrison Ave. to help increase the capacity. Also, the installation of inlets on Oklahoma Ave. and Harrison Ave.

The goal is to get the stormwater out of the downtown area quicker.

Roundabouts

With the construction of the roadways, Oklahoma Ave. and Harrison Ave. will need to be resurfaced. City officials are proposing to add three roundabouts with two on Harrison Ave. and one at the intersection of Wentz St. and Oklahoma Ave.

On Harrison Ave., one roundabout is suggested to go in front of Jelsma Stadium (west of Wentz St.) and the other just to the east of Wentz St.

City Manager Leroy Alsup said he would like to add both retractable and permanent bollards at the roundabouts to help prevent a vehicle being able to drive into events (football tailgating, Red Brick Nights).

At Wentz and Oklahoma, which is said to be the oldest traffic signal in town, the traffic light would be removed and the roundabout added, along with
retractable and permanent bollards.

Funding

The total construction cost, including contingencies, is listed at $3,881,989.04. The ACOG grant (80 percent) share of the cost would be $3,105,591.23. Along with engineering costs, the City’s portion comes in at $1,046,085.81.

If the City were to fund the Harrison Ave. bridge alone without the grant, the estimated cost is $1,042,925.91.

“Basically, we are spending a million bucks no matter what,” council member Brian Bothroyd said.

City Manager Leroy Alsup says the City may have to borrow against future CIP (Capital Improvement Projects) money, but is confident they can find funding for the project.

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