Longer Than Expected Bridge Closure in Adair Causing Frustration

ADAIR, Iowa -- The city say the 5th Street bridge project was supposed to take four months to complete, but more than a year later the work still isn't done.

"It`s a real problem, anybody up town can`t get across town," said Scott Harkins. "The whole city in general`s getting tired of it," said Harkins. "I`ve got a repair shop and towing service downtown. I`ve got a semi out here right now waiting for a truck tire and he didn`t know how to get to me, so I`ll come out here and lead him up to my shop...gotta to go up couple blocks this way and up and around. It`s a long ordeal," said Harkins. "And everyday we go through this."

Harkins says the bridge closure is affecting businesses in town, including his own. "It`s kind of a hardship on everybody downtown," said Harkins. "We`ve got a lot of different businesses downtown...people from (Interstate) I-80 don`t know how to get to us."

That's what's happening to Zipp's Pizzaria.

"Does it affect me? Yes," said Zipp's Owner Jim Zimmerline. "I`ve had people tell me that they`re out of the convenience stores, wondering how do you get to Zipp's? So, I think it probably does and I think it just stops the random person from coming across...because anytime...somebody wants to go uptown and get away from the chains on the interstate, they just kind of drive, well they can`t drive and people see detour, they detour right back to 80 and head on down the road," said Zimmerline.

The bridge is the main access to town. The fact that it`s closed is a major inconvenience for drivers. "Oh, frustrating, it`s ridiculous, I mean look at this," said Johnny Scott. "You`re wearing out the side streets and that`s the big thing too," said Scott. "It`s a huge hassle. It`s a big delay every time. They got to get something figured out...every time you want to get somewhere quick you got to come clear around, you know, it`s a big pain."

City Attorney Clint Fichter provided the following information to explain where things stand:

"The 5th St. Bridge/Viaduct was constructed in 1923 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places because of the significant architecture used in the supporting structure.  Jenco Construction, Inc was awarded the 5th Street Project following a November, 2015 bid through the Iowa Department of Transportation. The project award was for an amount of $1,444,128.84.

The contractor was given 125 days to complete the project which, began in 2016.  Work on the project came to a halt in October 2016 with only a small percent of the work completed. The contractor has alleged a differing site condition not noted in the plans prevented him from completing the deck replacement.  In early 2017, the City completed a forensic analysis of the bridge and believes the bridge should be completed on the original plans and that damage had been done to the bridge.  Considering all the performance factors, the contractor was dismissed in February, 2017.

Since that time, the City has been working on ensuring the bridge is completed.  As part of that process the City has been working with a surety company, the Iowa DOT, and other agencies to ensure adequate funding was in place to complete the project.  Due to the historic nature of the bridge, the City also needed to acquire new approvals from the State Historic Preservation Office to complete the amended plans which will complete the project and fix the damage to the bridge.  The State Historical Preservation Office also recently awarded a $50,000 grant to help complete the project. The project is currently listed to be rebid by the Iowa DOT in November 2017, but an effort is also being made to complete a settlement which allow for earlier construction."

WHO-TV Channel 13 News reached out to Jenco Construction for comment, but did not hear back.

However, following the airing and posting of this story, WHO-TV Channel 13 News did hear from the State Historical Society of Iowa, who wanted to clarify some of the wording used by City Attorney Clint Fichter in the statement he provided regarding the timeline of events. According to Jeff Morgan, Public Information Officer for the Iowa Department of Cultural Affairs, the City of Adair needed to consult with the State Historic Preservation Office as opposed to acquire new approvals from the State Historic Preservation Office to complete the amended plans which will complete the project and fix the damage to the bridge.

For further context on this distinction, consider the following:

Federal agencies must allow the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) and other parties a reasonable opportunity to comment before proceeding with the project. Ultimately, Section 106 is a consultative process. Federal agencies must work with the State Historic Preservation Office of Iowa and/or the appropriate Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. Input from the general public and other interested parties is required. This consultation should occur at the early stages of planning, before work begins. The role of the State Historic Preservation Office of Iowa is to provide information and guidance in making recommendations to a federal agency on the potential effect of a project. However, the federal agency retains all decision-making authority.

Additional Information on this matter can be found by clicking on the following links:

https://iowaculture.gov/history/preservation/review-compliance

https://iowaculture.gov/history/preservation/federal-compliance-review/section-106/before-you-submit