The pedestrian bridge over Salt Creek at Brookfield Avenue, used by commuters heading to and from the Prairie Avenue train station until it was closed nearly two years ago, could be replaced as early as sometime this year.

Village Engineer Derek Treichel announced late last month that the village had succeeded in obtaining a federal matching grant that will pay for 80 percent of the cost for replacing the metal bridge, which was erected in 1986 at a cost of $24,000.

Costs have changed with the passage of time. Brookfield will receive a $176,000 CMAQ (Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality) grant to completely replace the bridge. The village’s share of the cost is expected to be in the area of $44,000.

Administered jointly by the Federal Highway Administration and the Federal Transit Authority, CMAQ grants are awarded to projects that are transportation-related. Brookfield applied for the grant in January 2005 during the administration of Village President Bill Russ.

Because the project is being federally funded, project development reports and construction bidding will all be supervised by the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT).

Because of the federal guidelines, Treichel said he wasn’t sure how long the project would take to get approved, saying it could be anywhere from nine months to a year or more.

The first step will be completing a project development report, required of all projects receiving federal money. After that, Hancock Engineering will complete design engineering for a new bridge and offer bridge options to the village board, according to Treichel. After that, the village will be able to go for bids on the project.

Proposals sought by the village in 2004 for replacing the pedestrian bridge came in around $150,000.

“We hope to be able to do something late this fall or in 2007,” Treichel said.

Village President Michael Garvey said he would direct the board to budget for the project in the village’s 2006-07 fiscal year, which begins May 1.

“It’s important for us to get this done this year,” he said.

The steel bridge currently in place at Brookfield Avenue, built by the Continental Custom Bridge Company of Alexandria, Minn., was purposely “weathered” in order to give it a protective patina and came with a 10-year warranty.

However, by 2004 the bridge began to show visible signs of deterioration, and it was closed to pedestrian traffic in April of that year as a safety hazard. In May 2004, the village hired an Oak Park engineering firm to conduct a study of the bridge’s condition, concluding that rock salt thrown on the bridge to melt ice during the winter had removed the protective “weathering” from the steel, causing it to corrode. The engineer noted that the Federal Highway Administration now prohibits salting bridges like the one in Brookfield over Salt Creek.

The pedestrian bridge, when open, provided an easy way across the river for commuters who park on the south side of Brookfield Avenue in the diagonal spaces along the railroad tracks. Since the bridge was closed in 2004, commuters either have to cross Brookfield Avenue to the north sidewalk or risk walking along the south railing of the concrete street bridge in the eastbound lane of vehicle traffic.