Waterworks Park Bridge targeted for replacement with a larger bridge. Plan not yet finalized.
As the fight has started to save the Green Bridge at 5th Avenue over the Raccoon River, the days of another historic bridge located upstream may be numbered. If rumors hold true, the Waterworks Park Bridge, located at the park bearing its name, is being scheduled for demolition and replacement with a wider and bigger bridge. As mentioned in the third part of the series on Des Moines’ bridges, the two-span Pratt pony truss was built in 1922 but was converted to a bike trail crossing in 1999 and has since been serving as one of the key points in the park as well as along the Grey Lake bike trail which runs along the Raccoon River in the southern part of Des Moines. It is unknown whether the truss spans used to serve as a vehicular bridge or if they were relocated from outside. But judging by the photos recently submitted by John Marvig (and can be viewed by clicking here), the bridge’s main spans as well as the approach spans appear to be in great condition. Should there be any concern regarding the bridge, then most likely with the steel piers for they were repaired and reinforced with additional steel to ensure that the structure stays in place inspite of the ice jams and flooding. Yet, most of these problems can be solved by replacing the piers with those that are sturdier, mainly a combination of concrete and steel.
If a bigger bridge is to take place of this truss bridge, then the City will be mistaken if they think that the structure requires minimal maintenance. There is no such thing as a zero-maintenance bridge unless a person wants to replace it every ten years at the expense of tax-payers’ dollars because of structural concerns that were neglected . For any bridge, maintenance is expected to assure the bridge’s long-lasting lifespan, and given the condition of the Waterworks Park Bridge, all it takes is some cosmetic and structural work and the truss bridge will last another 50-60 years. It is highly doubtful that a modern structure, as proposed by the City, can do that, let alone make the park look nicer than it is right now.
While work on saving the Green Bridge is already in full gear, it will not be long until another movement to save this bridge gets going. So stay tuned for the developments.