Jackson Street (Green) Bridge update

Courtesy of the State Historical Society of Iowa

Meeting on 26 November; Petition Online

The Des Moines Park Board and the City Council this past Tuesday presented their plan of demolishing the Jackson Street (Green Bridge) at the City Hall, only to be met with stiff opposition from several people speaking in favor of the preservation of the bridge, plus an unknown number of people supporting them. Among those speaking for preserving the bridge is Sarah Oltrogge and the Des Moines Historical Society, who presented council members with a detailed explanation on why and how the Green Bridge, built in 1898 and spanning the Raccoon River, should be preserved. She later presented the City Council with a certificate for their efforts in bringing this issue to the table. Paula Feltner, Rosana Olson and Dr. Michael Eberle were among those who spoke in favor of the bridge being saved, as well as Lloyd Oggle, who suggested that the $750,000 placed aside for demolishing the bridge be delegated to the purpose of restoring the bridge.

Proponents for demolishing the bridge include  City Attorney Rick Clark and Park and Recreation Director Ben Page, along with Mindy Moore, one of the Park Dept.’s staff members. Ben Page was adamant about using funds for preserving the bridge for the money is scarce and is needed for other trail projects. Mindy Moore claimed that a broken pin and the skewing of the bridge makes it unsafe and referenced the I-35W Bridge collapse of 2007 as one of the reasons bridges like the Green Bridge are unsafe, even for pedestrians. This argument was downplayed by those who claimed that it was falsified with no concrete evidence of the Green Bridge actually collapsing because of these claims.  The City Attorney in response to the Park and Recreation Dept.’s proposal, stated “The City Council is under no obligation to follow your (the park & rec board’s) recommendations.” It appears that a big fight is ahead, especially since the City Council will meet again about this bridge on 16 December.

In the meantime, YOU can help. A petition, created by the author of the Chronicles, has been launched through Credo. At the time of this posting, almost 450 people have signed their petition favoring the preservation of the bridge. We need at least 10,000, which include some from the international front. If you are interested, click here to sign. A link to the information about the bridge through the Chronicles is available on the petition to read more about the situation. Furthermore, the Green Page is also on facebook. With almost 900 likes, the goal is to reach 2,500 before the December 16th meeting. Click here and like the bridge to follow up on the developments involving the bridge and see how you can help.

The Bridgehunter’s Chronicles will also keep you posted regarding the latest on the Green Bridge, however, its facebook page will feature examples of bridges similar to the Green Bridge that were restored at a cost that is at the most a third of what the City claims is going to cost: $3.7 million.  If you know of any bridges that were restored at a cost lower than that, like the Chronicles on facebook and post the information for others to see, while at the same time, follow up on the latest news involving historic bridges.

This leads to the question for the forum regarding the blue print of the bridge. Look at the picture more closely and compare this to the photos of the bridge posted on the Green Bridge’s facebook page. What differences can you see, especially with the portal bracings? What are the assumptions can you make from there? Was the bridge so extensively rehabbed that it no longer looks like the one in the blue print, relocated somewhere upstream along the Raccoon River, or did the bridge builder scrap the plans in favor of a truss bridge with simpler portal bracings? What do you think?