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Margaret's Musings: So what does $4.4 million buy these days?

My ears perked up last week, when a small article appeared in the Hudson Star-Observer announcing the bridge would be painted this summer. That would be our "Bridge" -- the one I have to admit to being pretty close to. I spent 12 months documenting its construction and another several months documenting the removal of the old blue bridge, once an icon of Hudson appearing on squad cars and school district stationery.

In the recesses of my mind, I recalled being told, at the time the girders were being delivered, they did not need to be painted but the outside surfaces would be for esthetic purposes.

So I was curious about what was going to be painted for $4.4 million. Thanks to e-mail and all things digital, I was able to receive a breakdown of the bids within minutes.

As to what exactly will be painted, everything that is metal on the westbound side of the bridge and the outer girders on the eastbound bridge, according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Northwest region.

It turns out the largest portion of the cost goes toward protection of the environment and traffic control tools.

In order to protect the river, the winning contractor, ERA Valdivia Contractors of Chicago must create a negative pressure containment facility. Visualize a sheet plastic-pressurized structure to contain not only the old paint but the sand blasting abrasive used to remove the old paint so that none of it goes into the river, or air for that matter. That adds up to $1.4 million.

Traffic control includes drums, barricades, warning lights, arrow boards, signs and temporary marking removable tape. This adds up to $281,207.60 and does not include the concrete barriers which adds another $37,975.

The total cost of building the eastbound bridge in 1995 was $18,000,000.

This column is not critical of the WisDot or of the cost, it is just a look at the price of things these days.