Thousands of petition signatures have been collected in an effort to convince Long Grove officials to not replace the village's 111-year-old, one-lane bridge.
Bridge proponents started the petition campaign last week because Long Grove village board members are expected to decide this year whether the old span should be renovated or replaced with a two-lane crossing over Buffalo Creek.
As of Wednesday afternoon, the save-the-bridge online and paper petitions were up to 3,250 signatures, said Ryan Messner, chairman of the Downtown Long Grove Business Association's executive committee.
In addition to the business organization, the effort is backed by Long Grove Community Church, Montessori School of Long Grove and the village's historical society. Messner said the petition part of the campaign should run another two weeks.
The pin-connected steel-truss bridge built in 1906 is on the western edge of the downtown business district. Its fate has been a source of discussion since village officials cited its poor condition about three years ago, and the idea of a two-lane replacement surfaced.
An image of the village-owned Robert Parker Coffin Road bridge, which received its cover in 1972, is part of Long Grove's official government logo.
Village board members next week are expected to receive updated renovation and replacement cost projections. The meeting is set for 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 24 at village hall, 3110 Old McHenry Road.
Should the village eventually decide to tear down the covered bridge and build the two-lane span, it could receive financial assistance from a federal and state replacement program. The program cannot be used for the one-lane bridge because it would not meet modern requirements to accommodate greater vehicle width and weight, officials said.
Trustee Stanley Borys raised concern last week that a proposal for the two-lane replacement to have a cover is not widely known.
"I'm guessing a lot of people signing the petition probably don't realize what the alternative is," Borys said. "Namely, it's not just a two-lane bridge."
Mayor Angie Underwood, who isn't seeking re-election in April, said she's received several emails with positive comments about the bridge through a mechanism in the online petition. Underwood, a fan of the one-lane span, said the feedback has come from across the United States and countries including Japan and Norway.
"There is so much love out there in the world for the bridge," Underwood said.
Those who want the bridge repaired say the one-lane configuration calms traffic and keeps downtown pedestrians safer, but backers of the new span contend the entire village would benefit because fire trucks could cross Buffalo Creek.