WEST JORDAN -- The city's new "all-for-a-dollar" bridge over the Jordan River isn't going to be such a good deal after all.
West Jordan's elected officials learned Tuesday night the bottom of the bridge is coated with lead-based paint that will have to either be removed or encapsulated with an epoxy-type sealant.Like most environmental problems these days, neither solution will probably be cheap. Either alternative could cost thousands of dollars.
And if it's too expensive, the City Council could decide to eat the nearly $6,000 it has already invested in the bridge and walk away from the deal altogether.
The historic Mounds Bridge is a 91-foot steel truss structure currently located in the Emery County Road Department yard in Castle Dale. For years, it carried trains over the Price River near Elmo.
Eligible for inclusion on the National Historic Register, the bridge was scheduled to be moved to West Jordan later this month where it would span the Jordan River near 7900 South.
The City Council approved an agreement with the Utah Department of Transportation in March to buy the structure for $1 and use it to carry pedestrians and bicyclists over the river between West Jordan and Midvale.
As an incentive, UDOT provided a state "transportation enhancements" grant of up to $18,000 to help cover relocation costs.
But apparently no one in West Jordan thought to take a closer look at the bridge's paint job before the deal was cut.
If they had, the problem with the lead-based paint might have come up before the city signed an interlocal agreement with UDOT and accepted bids for hauling the 23-foot-wide structure and designing new abutments.
Wayne Harper, community and economic development director, said Tuesday the problem was spotted recently when city staff inspected the structure in Castle Dale and noticed the paint.
"We had it tested," he told the council. "It has a fairly concentrated amount of lead."
UDOT has suggested encapsulating the paint with a sealant, but the low bid on that process came in at about $56,000, Harper said.
If the State Division of Environmental Quality had its druthers, the bridge would be sandblasted and the lead paint fragments collected before the structure was coated with a sealing compound.
But that process, which would include the expense of transporting and disposing of a hazardous material, would probably be even more expensive.
And either way, the council was told, the price of making the bridge environmentally safe is roughly equivalent to what it would cost to build a new bridge.
Councilman Brian Pitts asked how much the city stands to lose if West Jordan defaults on the bridge agreement.
Harper replied the city was into the bridge project between $5,500 and $6,000.
However, he indicated there may be one option that could be less expensive: Taking the Clearfield Job Corps vocational painting program up on an offer to paint or seal the bridge for the cost of materials.
However, that would still require the city to invest between $15,000 and $25,000 to sandblast the bridge to EPA standards plus pay for hazardous waste disposal.
Harper was asked to firm up the cost figures and bring them back to the council next week.