ROADS/BRIDGES: Des Moines bridge gets community boost to reach rehab budget

Historic downtown bridge will reopen to pedestrians and cyclists in 2016

November 24, 2015

The Jackson Street Bridge in downtown Des Moines, Iowa, will, it seems, benefit from the actions of a passionate group of preservationists, whose efforts recently achieved a fundraising goal of $2.3 million to reclaim and repurpose the bridge, which once extended Southwest Fifth Street across the Raccoon River.

The bridge was shut down for safety reasons in 2013 after only serving pedestrians and cyclists in its later years. Now it will be revived for that same purpose, after the Des Moines City Council approved reconstruction of the 117-year-old landmark. The bridge had faced imminent demolition only a few years ago.

A collective of residents, local businesses and philanthropists held off the demolition by forming the Friends of Jackson Bridge group, which together raised the $2.3 million for rescuing the bridge.

The group said the restoration project helps the city strike a balance between old and new development, considering the demolition of the Riverfront YMCA downtown and the loss of a portion of the old Younkers building to a fire in 2014.

Construction estimates from the city place the restoration project at $2.15 million, allowing planners to breathe some relief since funding now exceeds that estimate. The city plans to receive and hopefully accept a construction bid on the project next month, with construction slated for early 2016. The bridge is projected to reopen in late 2016 or early 2017.

The refurbished bridge will be narrowed down to 14 ft wide for bicycle and pedestrian use as an extension of the multiuse Meredith Trail that runs along the southeast bank of the Raccoon River.

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