NORA SPRINGS, Iowa - It's a bridge that originally served as the main drag through town.
Historic records document that the two arch span bridge on 1st Street Southwest that crosses the Shell Rock River was opened in 1916, and carried traffic from what is now Old US-18. Currently, the bridge serves a residential area, as well as a connection between the town's two grain elevators.
However, the bridge has started to show its age, with chunks of concrete breaking apart, rebar showing through, and size limits currently in place due to structural concerns. Because of this, there were discussions on whether to replace or close the bridge entirely. However, Mayor Randy Hassman says the decision was made to replace the bridge rather than close it and shift all traffic, including elevator traffic, north to the Congress Street bridge.
"It would be our preference to not have all the grain traffic go over this big bridge and run in front of the main highway. It is one of the busiest roads in town."
This week, city council approved a bid contract to the Harmony, Minnesota-based Minnowa Construction for replacement work. Because of heritage requirements, Hassman says there will be some form of public display, including a video archive, of the old span, as well as the new bridge incorporating some historical aspects of the old bridge into the new span.
"We have to have documentation that we keep available to the public to show what the history of the bridge was, and what it looked like. The new design is going to have some similarities to the old bridge."
The project is expected to cost just under $1 million, with state grants expected to help with the cost. The current bridge is expected to remain open through the winter, with construction of the new span to begin next spring.