City Council agreed Sept. 15 to take the first step to secure Maine Department of Transportation permission to build a temporary footbridge beside Kelly Bridge on Swan Lake Avenue.

City Councilor Mike Hurley told councilors he had discussed the temporary bridge option with Olver Associates Inc. before the meeting, and the company and an MDOT official suggested the city put together a case statement to be submitted to MDOT.

The statement is to include information about how many people and what types of housing and businesses reside in the area around the bridge, Hurley said. Councilors voted to fund its preparation.

The city must provide evidence a footbridge is needed at the location, Hurley said. Because there are few accidents or injuries at the bridge, MDOT argues that there is no need. But the city thinks there are no injuries at the site because people are afraid to walk across the bridge, which has no sidewalk and only a narrow shoulder.

As previously reported, it is a state-maintained bridge, which means the city must seek permission from MDOT to build a temporary bridge. Kelly Bridge is an older bridge that the state expects to replace within the next 15 years; that extended time frame is why councilors want to build a temporary bridge, Hurley said. When the state rebuilds the bridge, it will build a wider shoulder or sidewalk.

Placement of a pedestrian bridge is problematic because of the stream's path and the area's topography. A temporary bridge would be sturdy and well-maintained, but its life expectancy would be shorter than that of a permanent foot bridge, he said.

A temporary bridge could cost the city $40,000 to $45,000 to build, according to Hurley. The city already has $25,000 set aside for the project. The $500 for Olver Associates Inc. to develop the case statement will come from the Swan Lake sidewalk fund.