Building better bridges: Des Moines gets $8 million from federal government for restoration project

Construction on four brigdes to begin in 2018

By Orko Manna |

Published 07/29 2016 10:27PM

Updated 07/29 2016 10:27PM

DES MOINES - Four bridge projects in Des Moines are getting flooded with cash.

The City of Des Moines got $8 million from the U.S. Department of Transportation to fix the following the bridges crossing the Des Moines River on Locust Street, Court Avenue and Scott Avenue, as well as the SW 1st Street Bridge that crosses the Raccoon River.

Experts say these bridges are aging, as many of them were built in the early 1900's. To fix them, the city is pumping $22 million into the "Bridges to Opportunity" project, and officials are hoping to make them stronger than ever.

"Pretty much every day, I use it to get to work and get to the gym right over here across the river, so about every day I'm walking or driving across it," said Des Moines resident Josh Brosnan, right after he crossed the Locust Street Bridge in downtown.
We sometimes take Des Moines' bridges for granted, but residents know even these sturdy structures need a little TLC.
"[I] studied civil engineering at school, and I know that they have to be redone every 50 or so years, and it's important that cities continue to invest money in that and not let them go by the wayside," Brosnan said.
"We've been known as a city of the bridges through the years," said Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie. "And these bridges are either at or getting very close to 100 years old."
That's causing some bridges to crack and start eroding. To address the issue, city officials asked the federal government for $8 million dollars to be added to their $22 million dollar restoration plan.
"This $8 million award that we got through this TIGER Grant is going to be such a help to expedite and fund this process," Cownie said. "We've got 80,000 people living downtown, working downtown, and need to get from each side of town each and every single day."
And Des Moines residents like that sense of connectivity.
"The east side is great, I mean there's a lot of history over there and the capitol building, I like a lot of the bars down there, so it's nice to have a nice little walkway between the East and the Central part of Des Moines," said Des Moines resident Chris Rummery.
"Probably not looking forward to the construction, maybe get a different route to work, but other than that, yeah, it'll be nice when the bridges are all done," Brosnan said.
Des Moines city officials say they are working on creating mockups of the bridge renovations, and they expect construction to begin in late 2018.


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