The Ottumwa Courier

October 19, 2012

Eisenhower bridge re-opens

School children can now access bridge to get to school; bus routes still available

CHELSEA DAVIS
Courier Staff Writer

OTTUMWA — The Eisenhower Pedestrian Bridge re-opened this week, giving children a safe way to cross the highway on foot for the first time since April 2011.

The bridge opened Tuesday after almost two months of work to get it repaired.

An escort vehicle directing a semi truck hauling a wide-load turbine in April 2011 led the semi down Iowa Highway 149 when it should have taken it on the outskirts of the city, said City Attorney Joni Keith in a previous interview with the Courier.

The semi load was too wide to make it under the bridge, causing approximately $172,000 in damage.

“It opened Tuesday morning,” said Public Works Director Larry Seals. “Kids can use it to get to school now.”

The city has filed a lawsuit against the insurance companies of the semi truck company, Corvask Transportation, and the escort service, Norman Tolle Pilot Car Service.

Litigation against the two, though, will be a long, drawn-out process, Seals said.

Vasko Vasilevski, the driver of the semi truck, was issued more than $39,000 in citations stemming from the incident.

In a previous City Council meeting, Seals said any settlement will offset funds the city is using to cash roll the project. Currently the project is being funded with CIP funds from fiscal year 2013.

“The argument is ultimately between them [the escort and the trucking company],” Seals previously said. “It was the escort’s responsibility since he was off his route ... of course, they all resist paying anything.”

Parents of children who used the walkway to get to school had been told to make other arrangements, since getting to school on foot would have meant children crossing at the intersection of the highway and Rochester Road or farther down where the highway intersects with North Court Street.

Jerry Kjer, co-owner and manager of Southern Iowa Transit, said right now no dramatic changes to bus routes have been planned.

“With winter weather coming out, I think people have gotten to enjoy the bus routes the way they’ve been,” Kjer said. “We’ll keep routes functioning in the same manner and re-evaluate in a month or two if we see ridership down.”