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Jefferson City committee discusses Ohio Street bridge, financial hit at Salvation Army

Jefferson City committee discusses Ohio Street bridge, financial hit at Salvation Army

March 15th, 2019 by Nicole Roberts in News

The Salvation Army Thrift Store, which is less than two blocks from the Ohio Street bridge, seen here, has experienced a loss of revenue due to the bridge closure. Jefferson City officials closed the bridge to vehicle traffic in September after MoDOT found it was deteriorating and in need of repair or replacement.

Photo by Julie Smith /News Tribune.

The Salvation Army has experienced a financial hit over the last six months due to Jefferson City's closing the Ohio Street bridge to vehicle traffic, representatives of the organization said Thursday.

Salvation Army Corps Officer Christopher White urged the Jefferson City Public Works and Planning Committee to seek funding to replace the Ohio Street bridge, located in Washington Park between Louisiana Avenue and South Boulevard.

The city closed the bridge to vehicle traffic last fall after a Missouri Department of Transportation inspection found it was continuing to deteriorate. It is still open for pedestrian and bicycle use.

The Salvation Army has seen a negative impact on its budget since the Ohio Street bridge closed, White said.

The bridge closure has caused The Salvation Army's donations to drop 15-20 percent, White said. As The Salvation Army Thrift Store, at 718 Michigan St., enters its busy months, he added, they estimate the store's sales could drop 20-25 percent — $63,000-$79,000 — due to the bridge closure.

This estimated revenue drop equates to about 1,800 nights of lodging at The Salvation Army's shelter, White said.

"Every decision has repercussions, and we wanted to make sure you knew that these were the repercussions," White said. "This turns into dollars that don't come into our budget for our services."

With the bridge closed to vehicle traffic, The Salvation Army Thrift Store visitors can only access the store by turning onto Michigan Street from Missouri Boulevard. However, those turning left onto Missouri Boulevard from Michigan Street could wait for long periods. Many state workers who would visit the store on their lunch breaks are no longer coming to the store because of the long waiting periods, White added.

The net revenue from the thrift store in the 2018 fiscal year was $155,000, he said, with those funds going directly toward The Salvation Army's services.

It costs $382,000 annually to keep The Salvation Army shelter open 24/7, he added.

"We understand what it is to have a tight budget and to have limited resources when unbudgeted expenses occur," White said. "However, I am sure each of you will agree that our shelter and other services are a valuable resource to this community."

It would cost $60,000-$70,000 to design the Ohio Street bridge replacement, City Engineer David Bange said, while construction would cost about $1.5 million. The committee did not say Thursday whether the city would partner with an entity on this project, if the council approves the project.

The Public Works Committee voted to send the Ohio Street bridge replacement design process to the Jefferson City Finance Committee for discussion.

"There is a concern, not just for The Salvation Army, but just people who live in that area," Ward 5 Councilman Mark Schreiber said. "I would hope we could do something to plan for the future."