Palatine Twp. residents want to keep 60-year-old bridge

Some in Palatine Township opposed to plan to replace Briarwood Lane bridge

With curvy roads designed to bend around mature trees, rules prohibiting fences and an architectural committee that reviews any changes that could affect aesthetics, Plum Grove Estates in Palatine Township isn't your typical suburban neighborhood.

For many, the epitome of the subdivision's character is a historical bridge that crosses Salt Creek, a roughly 60-year-old structure complete with electric lanterns atop flagstone pillars.

The idea that township officials want to replace the Briarwood Lane bridge isn't sitting well with some of Plum Grove Estates' 262 households.

"The plan is being ramrodded through without our input or opinions," resident Wally Wilson said. "We think it's an expensive, needless and wasteful project."

To better explain the township's plan and help clear up any misconceptions, representatives of the township will attend the Plum Grove Estates' property owners association meeting at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Plum Grove Park, located at Algonquin Road and West Frontage Road near Rolling Meadows.

No one disputes the need for repairs to the bridge, but Palatine Township Highway Commissioner John Powers said it makes far more economic sense to replace it.

He said repairs and patching, which would be good only for 10 to 15 years, will cost about $370,000. Replacing the entire bridge will cost about $750,000 and last 60 or so years. The township won't have to borrow funds to pay for the work.

"The bridge is failing, with reinforcing rods rotting away and concrete chipping away," Powers said. "It's not ready to fall into the creek by any means, but it will at some point in the future."

Powers said he's sensitive to the aesthetics, and that crews will reconstruct as much of the existing stonework as possible. That's not to say the new bridge won't be significantly different, however.

The biggest change will be the elimination of three box culverts underneath the bridge in favor of a wide open design. Powers said the current structure leads to blockages and a buildup of silt and vegetation that needs to be regularly cleared. Just last week, workers had to fish out lawn furniture from the culverts.

Residents, many of whom circulated a petition opposing the bridge replacement, said they're also concerned with the associated roadwork and the possibility century-old trees will be destroyed.

To properly align Briarwood Lane with the bridge, about 150 yards of road will be rebuilt, and one property's circular driveway will have to be moved 20 feet. And though Powers said the changes will improve dangerous sight lines, neighbors are concerned straightening the road will lead to higher speeds by drivers who already cut through the neighborhood to avoid lights on Algonquin.

"I just want proof that this is a necessary project because we understand the bridge is structurally sound," resident Debbie Denton said. "It's very quaint, and this work will disrupt a lot of lives."

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