Lebanon to move forward on replacing rail bridge

Credit: Mandy Gambrell

Credit: Mandy Gambrell

A $1.9 million contract to replace a bridge on the Lebanon-owned rail line will be considered by Lebanon City Council at its Tuesday meeting.

Council is expected to approve an emergency ordinance to award to the contract to Eagle Bridge Co. of Sidney.

During its annual bridge inspection, it was indicated that Bridge 4.10 needs to be replaced in the near future. The bridge is part of the six-miles of rail line that supports the tourist train operation of the Lebanon Mason & Monroe Railroad.

City Manager Scott Brunka said the city publicly bid the bridge replacement project in September, and only received one bid.

He said in discussing the project with several other potential contractors, it appears that several declined to bid based on their current workload and the specialty nature of the project.

Eagle Bridge Co. submitted an initial bid of $1.98 million, which exceeded the city’s allocation budget of $1.5 million.

Brunka said city staff worked with Eagle Bridge to value engineer their project bid down to $1.9 million. He said $1.3 million is for the bridge structural steel alone.

“An additional consideration is the fact that there is a 12- 14 month lead time for delivery of the bridge structural steel,” he said. “Given the current construction market conditions, and the lengthy lead time for delivery of the structural steel, staff is recommending the award of this contract to Eagle Bridge Co.”

Brunka said work should begin in 2024 when the train operations are shutdown for the season.

The project is being funded by a $750,000 State Capital Budget Grant; $300,000 in Warren County ARPA funds; $450,000 in Lebanon ARPA funds; $150,000 in supplemental funding from the city’s General Fund; and $251,480 from the city’s rail reserve fund.

The rail line was initially constructed in the 1870s but declined by the early or mid 1900s due to changes in market conditions, according to City Manager Scott Brunka. He said the city acquired the stretch of track in 1881 after the Penn Central Railroad started the abandonment process because the line wasn’t financially feasible to operate. The LMM Railroad has operated a tourist train since 1985.

In February 2022, Brunka said the city entered into a new eight-year rail operating agreement with LM&M Railroad to support their continued operation on the line. Among other provisions, it outlines LM&M’s rail maintenance and bridge replacement and repair fees payable to the city on a monthly basis. The monthly bridge replacement and repair fee paid to the city is $7,300 for total payments from LM&M of $700,800 over the life of the contract. Additionally, the city contributes approximately $95,000 annually into the fund to support future rail infrastructure needs.

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