Hennepin Bridge Project Has to Span Red Tape

The village of Hennepin was hoping to be able to cut the ribbon for a new bridge onto the Marquis Oak Ridge Trail by the Fourth of July holiday, but there’s a substantial amount of red tape to be cut through first.

The village has the support of the land owners involved in the project, which will begin at the end of Third Street and span Coffee Creek. It will allow hikers and cyclists onto the new 2.7-mile trail, and hikers will also be able to continue on into the Dixon Waterfowl Refuge.

Additionally, hikers and cyclists could use the trail as part of a loop traveling back toward the village on state Route 26 and onto Hennepin’s new bike path on High Street.

Although Village President Kevin Coleman has previously said the Durley-Boyle Charitable Trust was amenable to the idea of funding the project, the solicitation of donations is also likely. However, no firm estimation of costs for the pre-fabricated bridge project is known yet.

During the Feb. 21 Hennepin Village Board meeting, village engineer Bill Shafer received approval for $15,000 toward continuing the permit process, which has likely become more complicated than expected.

Along with the concept plan and preliminary surveying work, there will also need to be an initial archaeological survey, soil cores will need to be taken, and there will also be a 90-day review period that will include work with the Illinois EPA, the Department of Natural Resources, and the Army Corps of Engineers.

“The archaeological survey isn’t expensive, but it takes time,” Shafer said.

There’s additional concern about impacting the habit of Indiana bats, an endangered species. Shafer said he’ll be contacting the Wetlands Initiative, the organization managing the refuge, to see whether any of their services could be used to help expedite the process.

“We’ll also need to determine that it won’t negatively impact the wetlands and we can’t do that until growing season, which will likely be April,” Shafer said.

“I know we were hoping to have it open by the Fourth of July, but that’s just not going to happen,” he added.

Board member Quentin Buffington said that the village had already approved $4,000 for the preliminary work and that with the additional $15,000 approved at the meeting, the costs were becoming a concern without a firm funding commitment from the Durley-Boyle Charitable Trust.

“I don’t think we want to be this financially deep into this project and then have the trust tell us it was more than they wanted to spend,” he said.

While no final costs are known, it was suggested it could easily approach $200,000, if not more.

Source: Putnam County Record