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Carver votes to accept RR bridge donation
by Nick Mason
Dec 26, 2011 | 1728 views | 0 0 comments | 3 3 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The city of Carver hopes to own the old Main Street railroad bridge.
The city of Carver hopes to own the old Main Street railroad bridge.
The Carver City Council wants the city to own the old Main Street railroad bridge and later figure out what to do with it.

Councilors voted unanimously Dec. 5 to accept donation of the bridge from Omaha Track Materials LLC, which acquired the bridge from Union Pacific Railroad Company.

The Main Street bridge at the entrance to the city’s Riverside Park is part of a 5.6-mile track segment Union Pacific abandoned after another bridge in Scott County collapsed during a train derailment in 2007. The rail line was built in 1870.

The Main Street bridge was slated to be demolished as part of the abandonment process until the city’s Heritage Preservation Commission asked that it be saved as a tangible exhibit of railroad history in Carver.

City Attorney Larry Harris told councilors the paperwork to complete the bridge ownership transfer agreement should be done by Dec. 31 because Omaha Track Materials wants a 2011 charitable tax deduction.

There is no plan how the city will use the preserved bridge.

“There are no formal discussions at this point,” Mayor Greg Osterdyk said during a Dec. 12 interview. “We will look at it in 2012 and determine what is the best plan for it.”

Osterdyk has no personal preference yet.

“I want to talk to different groups around town and see if we can come up with a creative use for it,” he said. “We had to save it when we did. Now we need to take some time and determine what, if anything, we want to do.”

Omaha Track Materials required Carver councilors to accept the bridge “on an as is/where is basis subject to its present condi-tion and all faults or defects therein” and be entirely responsible for any and all structural or environmental conditions.

“If you discover arsenic in the road bed, it’s your problem,” Harris told councilors. “It’s an onerous agreement.”

City Engineer Dan Boyum told councilors the structural condition of the bridge was examined but no environmental tests were done.

The city will not own the land under the bridge. The land now is owned by Carver County government.

Harris warned city officials verbally and in writing that the city not owning the property which supports or lies underneath the bridge could pose a future problem.

“This could become a significant issue if work is needed to maintain or repair the bridge or if, for some reason, the city needs to remove the bridge,” Harris wrote.

Osterdyk did not consider the risk troublesome.

“I think we can work with the county going forward to try to alleviate any issues that might arise,” he said. “It’s been standing for over 75 years or whatever that number is. I would hope we would be able to take care of it and utilize it the best we can.”

In August, the council had voted 4-1 to try to receive a donation of the bridge from Union Pacific, however, it was later acquired by Omaha Track Materials.

In that vote, Mike Webb dissented, and stated, “I just think it’s another money pit for the city that we cannot afford.” But this month, Webb made it a unanimous vote. “It’s not worth causing a big havoc over,” Webb said. “You pick your battles. I don’t need to make a statement with that. Everyone knows how I feel.”
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