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Green light for demolition of Fabyan preserve foot bridge

GENEVA – Kane County Forest Preserve planners will work in coming weeks to draft a plan to improve the western shore of the Fox River at the Fabyan Forest Preserve.

But in the meantime, a concrete bridge that, for perhaps a century has carried foot traffic from the Fabyan preserve’s western shore to an island in the river, will need to be removed.

Wednesday, the Kane County Forest Preserve District Commission approved a recommendation from the district’s staff to demolish the old concrete bridge.

“The bridge there is closed, but the public can access it, even though it’s roped off,” said Kane County Forest Preserve District Commission President John Hoscheit, R-St. Charles. “It’s a liability issue.”

The bridge has been closed since September, when workers discovered the bridge had “cracked through” and a section had “heaved up” about four inches, making the bridge unsafe, forest preserve officials said.

Hoscheit said properly repairing the bridge would cost the district “millions of dollars, which the district doesn’t have.”

While the bridge has stood in that location for at least 70 years, the district’s Planning and Utilization Committee voted last month to recommend the bridge be demolished.

Some on the Forest Preserve Commission questioned whether the district should proceed with demolition before crafting a plan of what to do next.

“I’m fully in support of demolishing the bridge,” said forest preserve commissioner Mike Donahue, R-Geneva. “But we need a follow-up plan.”

Forest preserve commissioner Drew Frasz, R-Elburn, said approving the demolition allows the district to remove the bridge, which he said was “not an attractive structure, beyond repair and closed to the public," while simultaneously proceeding with drafting those other plans.

Forest preserve officials have discussed the possibility of opening the adjacent causeway to increase stream flow and constructing a small bridge over that span.

But any of those plans would need to be approved by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The demolition would occur later this year, forest preserve district officials have said.

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