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Prairie City News

High waters threaten the future of Red Bridge

Water is almost touching the historic Red Bridge, located near Reasnor, causing concern for its future on the river and the possibility of moving to Quarry Springs Park in Colfax.
Water is almost touching the historic Red Bridge, located near Reasnor, causing concern for its future on the river and the possibility of moving to Quarry Springs Park in Colfax.

With the recent heavy rainfall and serging water flowing in Iowa’s rivers, concern for the future of the historic Red Bridge is growing each day. Joe Otto, who is leading the efforts to save the bridge, said as each day passes, the likelihood of something happening to the bridge goes up.

“That is the kind of thing that is going to cause it to come off of its piers,” Otto said. “If water like that runs up against those piers long enough, it is only a matter of time before the already weakened structure comes off and it gets washed into the river.”

The loss of the bridge would draw to a close Otto’s efforts to move the Jasper County landmark from its current location near Reasnor to Colfax at Quarry Spring Park. In Colfax, it would be featured as a walking path from the downtown area to Quarry Springs Park.

Even as waters continue to tempt the structure to an untimely end, Otto is looking at ways to make sure it’s life is extended until funding can be gathered to move it to shore. One avenue he is exploring included reaching out to the Jasper County Engineer’s Office about getting a bid from the engineering firm of Calhoun and Burns for the stabilization of the structure in its current location. In an email to Otto, county engineer Russ Stutt said, to date, he has not heard back from Calhoun and Burns, but there was a possibility of speaking with them at an event he was attending.

“It would be substantially cheaper then bringing in a crane and setting it on the bank,” Otto said. “It buys me time.”

The process of relocating the bridge has been broken into three phases with the first phase involving a crane with the ability to move structure in one piece from its piers to dry ground. From there, the bridge would be transported from its location near Reasnor to Quarry Springs Park. The final phase has the bridge rebuilt on the river and ultimately used as a walking path from downtown Colfax to the park.

While the drive to complete the project is there, the money to make the work happen are not. With an estimated cost of more than $80,000 to make the move a reality, Otto is leaning on grants and donations to fund the project, which take time.

And it is time, and Mother Nature, that are working against the last trussell bridge in the county. With debris collecting daily and rain forecasted for the area, supporters just hope that the historic bridge can ride out another obstacle and still remain standing to keep the efforts going to give it new life and purpose.

“These are valuable, cultural and economic resources that, if saved, could generate a very sustainable economic development to the county,” Otto said.

Contact Jamee A. Pierson at 641-792-3121 ext. 6534 or jpierson@newtondailynews.com

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