Mayor Rusty Hike, City Administrator Jim Ristow along with members of the Bellevue City Council and other City Officials have been following the comments on the City’s social media pages regarding the Galvin Road Pedestrian Bridge needing to be taken down. We appreciate the input! Your comments are being heard and have instigated further discussion on this topic.
Here is a little background on how the Galvin Pedestrian Bridge got to this point. The bridge has been in place over 50 years and during that time it has received regular maintenance from the City of Bellevue. Over time the bridge has experienced metal fatigue as well as decking failures that the city worked to mitigate. These mitigation steps helped prolong the life of the bridge but unfortunately couldn’t save it.
In 2022, the bridge was deemed unsafe due to its aging beyond its useful life. The city began to seek options to conduct a major renovation which was deemed not feasible as the bridge was currently not ADA compliant and the repairs exceeded the percentage allowed to not bring the bridge into compliance with ADA requirements.
The replacement of the bridge was going to require significant compliances with ADA requirements causing problems in this exact location. The approaches (ramps) would require additional land which made this site less desirable to accomplish this task. The cost to replace the bridge is currently estimated to cost over $4 million dollars. This is not an unreasonable or unexpected price but would require a study to ensure all federal requirements are met.
City of Bellevue Officials have met with the school district to discuss usage and possible cost sharing or alternative ideas. The school district was not able to participate in cost sharing for a new bridge at this time; however, they have committed to placing crossing guards at that intersection to further enhance the City of Bellevue’s investment into changing the signal system to better alert drivers to the crossing area. In addition, it was recognized that 55 students attended the school from the west side of Galvin and the school district has agreed to provide bussing to all students on the west side of Galvin Road so they do not have to cross this road to get to or from school. This is similar to the agreement the City of Bellevue reached with the Omaha Public School District, so students don’t have to walk across Ft. Crook Road to access the new Forest Station Elementary School. These conversations were reiterated over the last couple of days as the feedback from the public started to come in.
Although it is not our preferred option, the bottom line is that since it was becoming more of a safety hazard as time progressed, it became apparent to the engineers that the bridge over Galvin Road needed to come down. With the safety of pedestrians walking on the bridge and the vehicles driving underneath the bridge in mind, the City has started the process to demolish the bridge. The City Council approved this May 2, 2023, in a public forum and the Bellevue Public School District had been notified in January or February of 2023 regarding same. The announcement has been in the public domain for quite some time and in addition, yellow tape has been placed across the entrances to the bridge to close the structure to traffic numerous times before being unauthorizedly removed.
Safety for the students of our community and all pedestrians is of top priority for the City of Bellevue. We believe the actions above ensure multiple steps to ensure a safe transition for students attending Birchcrest Elementary School. However, we do vow to monitor the pedestrian traffic in the area of Birchcrest Elementary School and Bellevue University and if the situation warrants further review or action, other options, including the study of a suitable location for the replacement of the bridge, will be considered.