The Story of the Cove 9 Bridge

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April 26, 2021
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May 4, 2021
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The Story of the Cove 9 Bridge

The Cove 9 Bridge is the original bridge since the development of Indian Hills.  In the last 10-15 years, we had begun to have to do some costly repairs, as erosion undermined the aprons of the bridge.  The Major Improvement Project committee included the cost of a new bridge in their proposals to the Members with the roads and dredging, only to have it defeated.  But in 2016/2017, when the lake was lowered, some board members with construction and engineering experience did an inspection and saw some deficiencies, and deficiencies serious enough that we felt it was beyond our expertise.  We immediately closed the bridge and contacted four engineering firms to conduct a formal inspection.  Only one of those firms responded promptly, Cochran.  They performed a detailed inspection and submitted a report to ILPOA dated April 2017, available on the ILPOA website.  That report said that there was no immediate danger, but advised that the bridge was at the end of its lifespan and that ILPOA should be planning to replace the bridge. 

With that report, serious planning of replacement of the @60-year-old bridge was started in 2017. The Bridge Committee was formed.  Members are John Oeltjen, Gary Weber, Mike Dean, Brian Nisbet, Mark McLean, and Mary Beth Huffman.  We also received help for documentation with Barry Alick, Larry McMillian, and Jayson Ripke during construction. 

At the forefront was the FUNDING of a bridge.  ILPOA has presented proposal after proposal throughout the years to obtain the funds for numerous infrastructure projects, only to have those proposals defeated again and again.  After consulting with our members through Neighborhood Forums and Quarterly Meetings, two separate assessments were put on the ballots.  The first was a $62 assessment for the design of the bridge, the second was a $376 assessment for the construction of the bridge.

A Request For Proposal was sent to multiple engineering firms for the design of the bridge.  We requested a detailed proposal from each of the firms, complete with references, insurance requirements, etc.  Three firms responded with a bid:  HR Green (St. Louis), Archer Elgin (Rolla) and Cochran (Fenton/Union).  The committee and the board interviewed the firms on April 5, 2019.   All three firms were more than qualified, and we felt that any of them would have been a great choice.  After evaluations were completed by all members of the board and committee, Cochran was chosen as our designer.  They were also the low bid of $33, 909.

In the meantime, a survey was sent to all members requesting what they would like to see in the new bridge.  Overwhelming, the members requested a simple bridge.  Same width as the old bridge, no additional lanes or walkways, no enhanced features, or no lighting options.  That information was sent to Cochran for their design.  Included with that very simple design was their professional estimate so that ILPOA could put the construction of the new bridge on the Ballot in the Fall of 2019.  Luckily our members voted in the assessment of $376 for the construction of the new bridge and we could move forward with the next phase of the project. 

On January 21, 2019, Dale Brunts, Diane Wideman, Randy Williams, and Jim O’Fallon along with 20 other members filed suit against the Association.  In addition to opposing the assessment, the plaintiffs also were suing for fraud and damages.  After over 1.5 years of the Association using the law firm Wegmann Law from Hillsboro to defend the lawsuit from these members, on August 10, 2020, the judge ruled in our favor.  Unfortunately, the four plaintiffs filed an appeal on 8/17/20 and the Association/Wegmann is still defending ourselves against Brunts, Wideman, William, and O’Fallon.

Indian Hills experienced a sizable flood (the week after a tornado!) on July 3, 2020.   Again, worried about the safety and integrity of the bridge, we requested a formal inspection from Cochran.  Additional deterioration was observed as well as shifting of the south beam.  A 12-ton limit was put on the bridge, and the heavier trucks were required to use the dam.  We also opened up the west end approach and attempted to fill the voids until construction in the fall. 

In September of 2020, a bid package was put out to a multitude of contractors.  We hosted a prebid meeting at the Community Center for the interested parties and on September 24, 2020, we received four bids at a public opening held online and in Cochran’s office.  THE BIDS were as follows:

  • Raineri                              $447,982.10
  • KJ Unnerstall                   $555,279.20
  • Wayne Brenneke             $350,566.50
  • Kozeny Wagner               $529,818.20

Concerned that the low bidder was quite a bit lower, Brian Nisbet and Mary Beth Huffman researched Brenneke.  We called his references, visited his jobs, and interviewed him extensively.  We discovered that he received a great bid from a local supplier for the precast beams and that Wayne and his son perform 90% of their own work.  We became comfortable with his abilities and worked with Cochran to execute his contract.  His contract contained stipulations such as schedule (60 working days), water level requirements (if the water raised to a certain level, it would not be counted as a day) and $700/day liquidated damages.

We prepared for CONSTRUCTION, as our maintenance crew worked to build the ramps at the spillway.  We were very happy with how those ramps turned out – as very little maintenance was required to the ramps during the entire winter.  They have now been dismantled and we will reuse all the material that was used to build the temporary ramps.  On November 15, 2020, the bridge and Cove 9 was closed down and Brenneke began mobilizing.  Demolition began on December 7.  Some of the structural steel beams that had been covered in concrete were even worse than earlier envisioned.  All in all, we were extremely lucky with the weather and Brenneke often worked through some minor high water issues that he did not have to, allowing us to make continuous progress.  Cochran was there for inspections and concrete testing to ensure that all work as per the contract documents.  Indian Hills also documented progress daily along with water measurements.  Only 38 working days from start to finish, Brenneke was complete and turned the bridge over to Indian Hills.  After a winter storm post-construction, we were able to open the new bridge on February 22, 2021.  We were lucky to have Cochran and Brenneke, both did outstanding jobs!


We received one change order from Brenneke and that was expected and planned for.  When installing piles, all bidders are instructed to figure a certain elevation as it is unknown how far they will have to bore to hit rock.  The Added cost for boring and steel piles was $3,200, bringing Brenneke’s final contract to $353,766.50.

 We are happy to report that we are currently approximately $8,000 under the budget and as delinquent members pay their late assessments, that number will rise.  If you remember, if there was any money left over from this project it was to be put in the Road Fund.

It was amazing to partner with the Bridge Committee, the Board, Cochran and Brenneke and the MEMBERS who voted in this much-needed project.  It is a testament to what can be accomplished if we work together to move this community forward.

Mary Beth Huffman