Riverside Township officials are hoping that rebidding the Swinging Bridge coating project with a reduced scope of work will finally attract bidders after three rounds seeking a more comprehensive solution have failed to land any bids. (Bob Uphues/Editor)

Riverside Township officials continue to by stymied in their efforts to rehabilitate the Swinging Bridge, which spans the Des Plaines River between the village and unincorporated Riverside Lawn, just east of the Riverside police/fire parking on Riverside Road.

Late last month the township failed – for the third time — to entice any company to bid on a project to remove and replace the coating on the 210-foot-long suspension bridge’s surfaces and perform some structural repairs.

While some companies apparently picked up bid packets after the project was formally announced in May, the township received no bids by June 22, when they were due.

Riverside Township Supervisor Vera Wilt broke the bad news to trustees at their meeting on July 13 and suggested she would work with the township’s architect, Ken Nadolski, principal of operations at WT Group, to reduce the scope of work in order to attract bids for a more basic rehab.

The reduced scope would separate out the structural repairs and forego a complete coating removal/replacement in favor of scraping the exposed, rusting sections of the bridge and giving the surface a paint job.

“I’ve asked the architect to let me know how we can break down the project into essential repairs and aesthetically coating it with the least disturbance of potential lead [paint] issues,” Wilt told trustees on July 13.

Nadolski will reportedly prepare a proposal for new bid documents that Wilt suggested the board could discuss any proposal and give direction at a special board meeting that would be called Aug. 2 when the board has its next committee of the whole meeting.

Wilt said choosing a scaled-back solution will mean the township board must accept that the bridge will need more frequent touchups if it cannot afford or find any company to do a full coating removal/replacement.

 “I don’t want the bridge to go another winter without, at least, a perfunctory coating,” Wilt said.

Whether even that “perfunctory” coating job will fall within budget is uncertain.

After putting the project out to bid twice in 2021 without success, the township solicited firms directly for the work and got two proposals.

One firm proposed a full coating removal/recoating at a cost of $725,000. The other proposed a much simpler project — cleaning and preparing the surface without removing all the old paint and then recoating it. However, even that proposal came in at $115,000.

Township trustees earmarked $85,000 in its 2022-23 fiscal year budget for the bridge rehab.

The Swinging Bridge, as it’s known locally, was built in 1940 and dedicated in honor of the late Cook County Commissioner H. Wallace Caldwell. It was rebuilt and rededicated in 2002.

The township last had the bridge surfaces recoated in 2011, but a 2020 inspection reported concluded that the job wasn’t done properly and left layers of old paint underneath, including lead-based paint.