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West End District walking bridge stepping forward

Planning to build a walking bridge connecting Old West Main Street to Bay Point Park will proceed after a majority of the Red Wing City council voted in favor of the project.

Alison Youngs, owner of Salon With A Twist in the West End District. spoke at Monday night's meeting in favor of the project.

"I really think that this walking bridge is going to be awesome for our business end of things," she said.

City staff are still working to find which location and shape of bridge would work best for this project and city. Dan Rogness, the city's community development director, presented a couple of locations and sketches. The current plan is to locate the bridge between Kelly's and Bayside or west of Kelly's where Jefferson Street ends.

The first sketch shows a structure that crosses the railroad tracks over to a sidewalk that is yet to be installed at the park's parking lot.

The second concept would have the bridge end just east of the parking lot. This would, according to Rogness, allow more maneuvering space in the parking lot.

Bridge A is estimated to cost $2,407,165. Bridge B is estimated to cost $2,638,665.

The city estimated that it would use $954,000 from the city's general capital improvement plan to pay for this project. This raised concerns from some audience members who did not think that this would be a good use of their tax dollars.

Alan Muller told the council that he could argue for or against the bridge and that he can see why business owners in the district are for it.

"On the other hand," Muller stated, "it's highly visible and it has the potential to become a highly visible symbol of a lack of restraint and spending other people's money. And that should be considered."

Construction dates are planned for 2020 and 2021. However Marshall Hallock, the city's administrative business director, told the council that this may vary due to funding. Staff will continue looking for revenue. There are two grant requests being considered.

"We think that we will have success on securing alternative funding, but when that materializes I think is going to predicate when we move forward with bringing contracts here."

Council members Becky Norton, Erin Buss and Evan Brown voted in-favor of moving forward with a bridge. Kim Beise was opposed; John Becker voted present.

Council president Dean Hove and councilmember Laurel Stinson were not present.

Becker explained that he supported the project and then continued, saying:

"I'm not really sure I like this whole idea that we have to endorse it; just keep going forward with the project. I mean, I don't feel the need that we have to make a motion to endorse the process to go forward. So I'm going to vote 'present' on this."