Letter to the Editor: With location for new bridge set, time to look at electrical distribution on Quincy riverfront

Photo of pedestrians walking across the Stone Arch Bridge historical site in Minneapolis.

Pedestrians walk across the Stone Arch Bridge historical site in Minneapolis. | Photo courtesy of Angela Doheny

It’s good that a recommendation has been put forth by the Illinois Department of Transportation for the replacement of the Memorial Bridge.

While it is not a consideration to replace the Golden Gate Bridge, also put into service in the 1930s and in a salt air environment, most other bridges should not be expected to last much more than 100 years. We should be asking now if a new one can last, say, the next 200 years.

Setting an actual location for the new bridge should now let us take another look at electrical distribution on the Quincy riverfront. I must say I was a bit wrong in my Sept. 26 opinion about the Ameren electrical utility structures looking like something out of the 1930s. They were actually put up in 1919. These lines provide significant electrical distribution to downtown Quincy, running 34.5 KV phase to phase and 20 KV phase to neutral with intermediate step-down voltages running to the streets east.  

Recent plans about underground burial gave the cost for only phase one of a planned three-phase process that would have updated only four to five structures of some 17 total in phase 1.   

While we have been given the cost of phase 1 for the project, it would be good to know the total cost of all three phases.

Looking at pictures I have taken, it is interesting to see one of the structures next to a children’s park play area with no protective fencing, while just a few hundred feet north, the same type of structure has fencing and barbed wire around it.

I was told in recent times an intoxicated man did climb one of these structures and had to be rescued by the Quincy Fire Department, which to me demonstrated a significant risk to our community first responders. The climb ladder is only about 15 feet from the ground, and a kid who is a good climber on the park’s climbing structure being in a climbing mood could, in my view, get up the support struts to the ladder.

Maybe gone is the time when an Illinois lobbyist could call up the major utility company he or she represents and state to them that it would be in everyone’s best interest to get this project all done at once and paid all by the utility company. The same taxpayers in the community pay the utility company to provide and maintain a safe and up-to-date power distribution system with their monthly bills.

Back to more pictures of what the electrical power distribution structures look like today along the Mississippi riverfront in Minneapolis. Maybe Ameren should install something similar as a needed update sooner rather than later.

A beautiful day at Water Power Park, which sits on the bank of the Mississippi | Photo courtesy of Angela Doheny

On the subject of the bridge structures and necessary roadways themselves, now is the time to look at two lanes of road on the Missouri side that can stay open if we have any more 500-year floods like we had in 1993 and 2003. Maybe it would cost three times as much for five to six miles of such elevated road versus five to six more miles of levy, but that would be a good investment. 

Use the old Memorial Bridge iron and encapsulate it in concrete to add strength to the elevated roadbed closest to the river. Elevate all roads between the river and the railroad bridge. Elevate the road on the south side coming into Quincy out to Route 61 and provide a cloverleaf ramp to get on and off the road which would be capable of one-lane traffic in both directions if needed. The road structure could even provide additional flooding protection to the industries and rail lines in West Quincy. 

Yes, that would mean some businesses on the south side of the floodplain would need to move, but most of the businesses on the north side would not be affected.

I don’t think using a portion of the old Memorial Bridge as a lookout point as I have seen on conceptual plans is a good idea or long-term investment. Who would pay to maintain such a structure? I can’t see IDOT or the federal government using tax dollars to maintain something that has no transportation value. 

Best to invest in the road on the West Quincy side.

Don Carpenter
Quincy, Illinois

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