Strolling Through Sutton

Strolling Through Sutton

Tuesday, October 12, 2021

Pedestrian Bridge Project Complete

A pedestrian improvement in Sutton that has been in progress for three years is finally complete. The bridge over School Creek reopened for use on September 20. The project, which was paid for in part with funds from the Upper Big Blue Natural Resources District, provides safe access for pedestrians to cross the creek along Saunders Avenue. This pedestrian crossing over the creek goes through the downtown area of Sutton and provides a link for walkers to amenities on the city’s main north/south corridor.  This bridge is important for foot traffic access from the business district on the south side of town to the city park, the city swimming pool, the ball complex, and the public school on the north side of town.
The city began working toward replacing the previous bridge in 2018 when an inspection revealed safety concerns due to cracking of concrete abutments, damaged bridge supports, and deteriorating concrete on the bridge deck. The city worked with JEO Consulting Group for a plan to replace the bridge. The total estimated cost for the removal of the old bridge, design and construction services, and the new bridge was $410,220. The city applied for a $250,000 grant from the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Trails Program, which would have left a local commitment of $160,220. The city approached the NRD with a request to fund 25 percent of the local share ($40,000) through the NRD’s Special Projects Program. 

The Sutton pedestrian bridge prior to replacement.

The Upper Big Blue NRD’s programs book states, “A ‘special’ project may be established by the board of directors by a majority vote. There are no limitations on the types of projects that may be termed ‘special.’ Generally, a special project may be utilized for a particular need when no district program exists to address the situation. Special projects will be considered on a case-by-case basis, each on its own merit, providing that they fall under the guidelines and purposes of the district.”
The NRD’s board of directors originally approved $20,000 of cost share assistance in September of 2019.  The NRD funds would be provided through an interlocal agreement with the city of Sutton. After further review and a site visit, the board of directors increased this cost share assistance for the project to $40,000 in August of 2020. The city’s grant application was not selected for Nebraska Game and Parks Commission Trails Program funding in 2019 or in 2020, so in March of 2021 the city decided to proceed on their own without additional grant funding. Sutton approved a bid of $285,725 from Van Kirk Brothers Contracting for replacement of the pedestrian bridge. Construction began in July of 2021 and was completed in September of 2021.

 The Sutton pedestrian bridge after replacement.

The NRD has provided technical and/or financial assistance for other trail projects such as the School Creek Trail in Sutton, the Plum Creek Trail in Seward, the City Park Trail in Beaver Crossing, Beaver Creek Trail in York, and the Cole Park and Streeter Park Trails in Aurora.
 “The City of Sutton has been improving its infrastructure for multiple areas across the community including the downtown, parks and walking trail,” said Sutton City Administrator Jeff Hofaker. “The new pedestrian bridge will provide a safe crossing for pedestrian traffic for generations to come. The city always searches for state and federal program grants for projects; although, many times these alternative forms of revenue to defray costs for larger infrastructure projects are not available or awarded due to those program funds’ being limited and/or highly competitive in nature. We are always humbled to know that the Upper Big Blue NRD will consider financially collaborating on specific projects in communities that parallel a common goal with their own programs. We are thankful to the NRD’s leadership having made a financial commitment of $40,000 toward this pedestrian trail bridge project.  Also, we are blessed to have a local construction company like VanKirk Brothers to bid on the project and perform an incredible bridge installation.”