County unloads Rock Island bridge workA public works hassle for Washington County will be handled by a Dakota County community.
A public works hassle for Washington County will be handled by a Dakota County community.
The city of Inver Grove Heights has agreed to remove portions of the closed Rock Island Swing Bridge on the Newport side of the Mississippi River as it reconstructs bridge spans on its side of the river.
Inver Grove Heights secured funding to create a recreational pier, and Washington County commissioners earlier this month approved allowing the city to tap state disaster dollars handled by the county.
In exchange for the $600,000 disaster aid, the city will remove two concrete piers that were left in the river when Washington County said it was forced to stop bridge demolition earlier this year.
That will clear the river’s shipping channel of physical obstructions, said Wayne Sandberg, deputy public works director.
The U.S. Coast Guard had raised safety concerns about boats traveling in that area of the river.
Inver Grove Heights’ project could total $2.2 million. No Washington County tax dollars will be used for bridge demolition or reuse, Sandberg said.
County Board members approved the bridge plan 5-0.
The 115-year-old span has been a headache for the county. It was closed in 1997. A portion of the bridge on the Newport side of the river collapsed in November 2008.
The county took the lead in removing the bridge, but said it could not continue after a state law was passed last year that included a moratorium on demolition. Legislators plan to lift the moratorium after they return to the Capitol next month, allowing for the Inver Grove Heights project to move forward.
Washington County Commissioner Myra Peterson, who represents Newport, said she was satisfied with how the issue was resolved.
“It’s probably an OK way for the county to handle it,” she said.
Peterson said she does not understand why Inver Grove Heights wants a recreational pier and park near the river in that area.
“I personally question why anyone would want to look at the (Marathon Oil) refinery and walk past the King of Diamonds (strip club), but whatever,” she said. “That’s their decision.”