Report: Bridge has needed repairs for a decade
September 25, 2009
Some elected officials say fixing a run-down bridge in Coalville shouldn’t fall onto the backs of Summit County taxpayers.
Still, Coalville Mayor Duane Schmidt sent the Summit County Council a blistering letter last week insisting that the bridge on 100 South, which is near the city limits, serves mainly homeowners and a business in unincorporated Summit County.
"Coalville City gets nothing from the council," Schmidt told The Park Record. "They’ve known about this since May and they’ve done nothing."
But the Utah Department of Transportation in July 1998 notified former Coalville Mayor Merlyn Johnson that the bridge was in serious disrepair, Summit County Councilwoman Claudia McMullin countered in an interview Thursday.
In a letter to Johnson, a UDOT structural engineer instructed Coalville officials to reduce the load limit on the bridge.
"If this is not done, there is a serious possibility of the bridge deteriorating to the point of collapse," stated the letter.
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Without action by "Coalville City, the citizens of the city could be faced with a large bill to restore the bridge to an acceptable condition," the UDOT letter stated.
Today, the condition of the bridge could be worse, McMullin said.
"For 11 years, this bridge has been structurally deficient and Coalville goes and spends a million dollars on beautifying of Main Street, then says to us, the county, bail us out, pay for our bridge," McMullin said about road repairs meant to spruce up downtown Coalville.
Schmidt’s letter to the council this month contained inaccuracies, which damaged the mayor’s credibility, McMullin said.
"The approach was completely misguided. Who thinks that’s a good strategy when you’re asking for money?" McMullin said. "It’s not our problem, Duane. And your approach is not making me want to take it on, either."
The low safety rating on the bridge has qualified the structure for receiving federal funds for repairs since the 1990s, she explained.
"In July of ’98, it went down to 47, which is structurally deficient," McMullin said. "The bottom line, this is a situation that has been ignored for 11 years."
Schmidt insists his letter was the only way he could get the County Council’s attention.
"I’ve appealed to the council on numerous occasion on things, and the council just pushed it aside," the mayor said. "I think that the letter is accurate."
Several years ago Summit County approved a permit for a commercial quarry that is situated west of the bridge, Schmidt said.
"Over the course of time the heavy load traffic has caused the bridge to deteriorate into a condition of unacceptable structural integrity," his letter to the County Council states.
Fixing the bridge could cost $200,000.
"The [County Council] clearly has responsibilities," Schmidt said.
But county officials will not budget money for the pricey repairs next year, McMullin said.
"Coalville is not paying to fix a bridge over in Oakley. Coalville is not paying to fix a bridge over in Park City," she said. "County taxpayers pay to fix county infrastructure. That’s why cities have their own budgets"
Summit County Councilman David Ure agreed with McMullin in a telephone interview Thursday.
"I believe, between the state of Utah and Coalville, they have the responsibility," Ure said.