The Jacksonville City Council approved the preliminary steps to upgrade a well-traveled bridge on the city’s east side last night.
The East College Avenue bridge at Mauvaisterre Creek has been on the city’s radar for the past 5 years to get upgraded through a federal grant program.
Jim Hutchison of Hutchison Engineering says that with the city taking the first steps to secure a preliminary engineering agreement and approve appropriations through the city’s Motor Fuel Tax funds, things can proceed: “One of the things that has happened is the condition of the bridge continues to deteriorate to the point that we really need to get serious about funding. In an effort to do so, we recommend that you move forward with Phase I engineering, which would be surveying, hydraulic study, a bridge condition report, and some environmental work to be submitted. Then, as we apply for the next round of grants for that bridge, we can show that [the city] has taken the initiative, and that will bump your score up on your grant application. It probably would be scoring it up to the point where you should be able to get funded this next year. That’s an 80-20 program, with 80% of course coming from federal funds and 20% would be funded utilizing local funds. We have saved money back for that process in the MFT.”
Over the last 5 years, the city had been using motor fuel tax funds to patch potholes over the dangerous bridge that leads to Old State Road. Hydroplaning and standing water have been a major issue. Hutchison says once the preliminary work is completed, the city may finally be granted the federal funds to completely redo the bridge.