After a year of uncertainty, lovers may get their Christmas present after all.
The gift may well be state approval of rehabitation funds for the historic and beloved span -- saved from demolition last year by a groundswell of lobbying by the grassroots
A Federal Highway Administration official said the city could obtain rehab money for the bridge under a set of three conditions, according to Mike Kirn, Healdsburg Public Works Director.
That is a significant step forward from several weeks ago, when Kirn said at Monday's Healdsburg City Council meeting.
"We're a lot further along than we were a month ago," Kirn said Monday. The state has already approved funds for a seismic retrofit on the bridge, but without the rehabilitation money, an earthquake-proofing was seen as counterproductive.
Kirn told Healdsburg City Council that he and attended a two-hour briefing at the bridge site on Dec. 7 with state and federal officials.
Acording to Kirn, the Federal Highway Administration official said he would tentatively "allow the city to move forward with rehabilitiation" under the following conditions:
-- the bridge height be slightly elevated.
-- safety barriers be installed along the bridge travel lanes.
-- Healdsburg commits to set aside $160,000 to $200,000 annually -- or roughly two-thirds of the city's annual $300,000 in gas tax revenue -- for bridge maintenance and upkeep.
"We told him that the City Council and the community wants the rehabilitation," Kirn said.
, was not present for Monday night's council meeting, which was only lightly attended by the time of the bridge issue discussion.
Because of the light attendance, Councilman Jim Wood requested that the bridge issue -- and the proposed attached conditions -- be placed on a January meeting agenda for public discussion.
"The public needs to be made aware of this issue," Wood said. "It's significant."
Since the Dec. 7 meeting, Kirn said he has followed up with appearances at other gatherings, including a California Transportation Commission meeting last week in Riverside.
Kirn said Healdsburg's Caltrans connection requested Kirn attend the state commission meeting so that various state agency officials are made aware of the city's intentions regarding the historic and beloved Healdsburg Memorial Bridge.
"I think it was helpful for Healdsburg to get on their (state commission) radar," Kirn said.