Most Endangered Property Update – Red Bridge, Jasper County

Endangered: Red Bridge, Monroe

In 2017 Preservation Iowa designated Red Bridge as an Iowa Most Endangered property. Since then a Save Red Bridge movement has formed. The endangered designation catalyzed citizens of Jasper County to petition the Board of Supervisors not to demolish it. Although the Board has yet to support the project financially, they have not obstructed efforts to secure funding from elsewhere. In the summer of 2018 SHPO approved a plan to relocate the bridge to the community of Colfax, where it will cross the Skunk River and connect a large city park, Quarry Springs, to the downtown business district. SHPO’s approval means the structure can stay on the National Register of Historic Places, thereby maintaining its eligibility for grants. Local and state news media have covered the story throughout. The Newton Daily News has had a handful of articles that show how the movement picked up steam. Recently, WHO Radio/TV Channel 13 news covered the story as well.

In December 2018 a group of engineering students from the University of Iowa completed a study of Red Bridge’s Phase 3 relocation and rehabilitation. The study was organized by Jasper County Hometown Pride Coach Jeff Davidson and carried out in cooperation with key leaders in Colfax, including Mayor David Mast, and Quarry Springs Park Board members Kim Seebeck, Doug Garret, Shannon Pell, Greg Rhames, and Pete Parvi. They did an in-depth study of the bridge’s superstructure, devised plans for moving it overland with a tractor trailer, and designed a concept of what the bridge would look like in its new home. Their work is a valuable contribution to the National Register of Historic Places amendment application, as it lays out a completed framework for Red Bridge that includes planning for all three phases of the project. With these new materials the Save Red Bridge Group will resubmit the National Register application to the State Historic Preservation Office for review.

Citizens of Jasper County have pledged about $10,000 towards the project. A Poweshiek County-based contractor, Work’n Bridges, has offered to bid the rehabilitation work for a reasonable rate. Boulder Contracting out of Grundy Center has bid Phase 1 crane extraction at $82,000. This is the company involved with the Jurgenson Bridge project in Madison County. A local house moving company, Billy Bell House Movers, has bid Phase 2 relocation at $45,000. Because the move impacts the power grid, MidAmerican Energy and Alliant Energy are involved and are openly collaborating. The third and final phase, reconstruction and conversion into a pedestrian bridge in the City of Colfax, has yet to be bid.