Council votes to close 123-year-old Cascade Bridge in Burlington

Cascade Bridge in Burlington, Iowa, shown in a 1995 survey conducted as part of the Historical American Engineering Record by the National Park Service (Libary of Congress)
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BURLINGTON, Iowa (AP) - Burlington City Council has deemed a 123-year-old bridge off-limits to all vehicles and pedestrians, leaving some residents frustrated that little has been done to repair or replace the deteriorating span.

The Cascade Bridge was closed in 2008 when its load rating was found to be less than 4 tons, and the council reopened the bridge to pedestrians and bicycles two years later.

But on Monday, the council voted to close the bridge to pedestrian and bicycle traffic on the recommendation of Calhoon-Burns, a West Des Moines-based engineering firm, The Hawk Eye reported. Calhoon-Burns determined that the bridge was in poor condition and could be a safety threat.

Residents who attended Monday's meeting criticized the council's lack of action to address the condition of Cascade Bridge in recent years.

"In the last 10 years, I have paid $100,000 in increased taxes even though I am getting a decrease in services," said Terry Arellano, who lives south of the bridge. Arellano said that while she's in favor of shutting the bridge down now, she still wants the city to consider other possibilities to reopen the bridge in the future.

Some residents noted that the city has turned down grants that could have covered the cost of maintenance. City manager Jim Fernaeu responded that more than $7 million is needed to ensure the bridge is safe, but that the largest of the possible awards was only $1 million.

Some city council members acknowledged that while Cascade Bridge is important, it's not the top priority.

"In 2012, the city had to borrow money to pay payroll. When you look at that, yeah it was low on my list," said Mayor Shane McCampbell.

The city council declined to discuss any prospective options to overhaul or replace the bridge. The topic is expected to be discussed at next week's work session.