A ConnectCR project went out with a “bang” on Aug. 31 with a celebration in anticipation of the demolition of the old CRANDIC/Rock Island Railroad Bridge.
The bridge was partially wiped out in the Flood of 2008 and will be fully removed this fall to make way for the Alliant Energy LightLine, a pedestrian bridge spanning the Cedar River near Mount Trashmore, connecting the city’s New Bohemia and Czech Village districts.
“This is an exciting milestone for the ConnectCR project,” said Steve Sovern, ConnectCR board member and an early proponent of the bridge. “Hundreds of donors, residents, and board volunteers have worked for years to help us get to this point. From early concepts nearly ten years ago to fundraising, to working through design, it’s been quite a journey and we are now just months away from the bridge being built.”
The celebration was dubbed “ReCycle the Bridge” in a nod to trail usage and cycling, as well as the fact that portions of the old bridge will be salvaged or “recycled” and used in signage near the new bridge.
Out with a bang
Officials and representatives with ConnectCR, the City of Cedar Rapids, Alliant Energy, ITC Midwest and countless donors and supporters gathered at the top of Mount Trashmore overlooking the bridge site and used bike pumps – representing detonators – to blow up bicycle tubes and make celebratory explosions marking the future demolition.
“This marks an inspiring moment, creating a new connection between historic neighborhoods on both sides of the Cedar River,” said Cedar Rapids city manager Jeff Pomeranz. “More than a bridge, this project will stand as a symbol of the connections formed through dedicated efforts by residents, organizations and government. The final product will become another inviting destination for residents and visitors to enjoy our city’s charm as they travel along the Cedar Valley Nature Trail and nationwide American Discovery Trail.”
Mr. Soveren said design options featuring components of the old bridge are being explored with an eye to add historical panels, with six of those signs featuring information about the area’s rich industrial, manufacturing, and agricultural history. The panels will be located in a park-like setting to the east of the bridge.
The bridge and its 165-foot tower will have LED lighting, thanks to a generous donation by ITC Midwest. The lighting will be a key element in creating an iconic bridge and destination near the base of Mount Trashmore. The bridge’s span is being designed to accommodate both pedestrians and cyclists and provide enough space for an enjoyable experience for people of all ages and abilities. Bridge visitors will be able to stop and take in the view of the city from the bridge’s west side where the tower will be located. Groundbreaking for the bridge will be in 2024, with completion scheduled for 2025.
“The Solid Waste Agency is excited for the groundbreaking and the addition the bridge will be to our community,” said Karmin McShane, Solid Waste Agency Executive Director. “It will be a showcase for the entire effort, from Czech Village and NewBo, to the great work being done at Cedar Lake.”