Burlington City Council votes to close historic bridge deemed a safety concern

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BURLINGTON, Iowa-- The Burlington City Council unanimously voted Monday, April 15 to permanently close Cascade Bridge to pedestrians.

Built in 1896, Cascade Bridge was closed to both cars and people back in 2008 after the city found it too unstable for traffic. It was later reopened to pedestrians in 2010.

That's a decision current Assistant City Manager to Public Works Nick MacGregor disagrees with.

He asked Calhoun and Burns, an engineering firm the city has worked with before, to give a recommendation on whether or not to close Cascade Bridge. Calhoun and Burns reported a section of the bridge could not withstand a four-ton load. That's a concern during concert season in Crapo and Dankwardt Parks when a lot of people cross and stand on the bridge.

"The Cascade Bridge is in poor condition and as such is a safety hazard," the firm's letter to the city says. "Given the age and condition of the structure it was a prudent decision to close the bridge. Due to the fracture critical construction of the bridge, sudden failure is a risk."

At the council's meeting Monday, a dozen people spoke about how the bridge closure would impact them.

"At this point in time, I think it's crazy to close it off to bicyclists and pedestrians," one man said.

Others said the city has been kicking the can down the road.

"We seem to have money for a lot of other things but this has gone on for 20 years," a woman said.

The council will start looking at future plans for rehabbing Cascade Bridge or building a new bridge during its work session on April 29.

According to a 2012 report, fixing Cascade Bridge would have cost $6.1 million and a new one would've cost $3.5 million. Several council members note those costs have only increased in the last seven years.

MacGregor says state funding will be available for a construction project in 2024.

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