Update given on Keystone Bridge project

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Keystone Bridge Project
The City of Elkader has received two grants to cover the cost of rehabilitating the historic Keystone Bridge.


By Pam Reinig Register Editor The Elkader City Council last week received an update on the Keystone Bridge project that included some very good news: Most of the cost of the project will be covered by state and federal funds. Elkader will receive a grant from the Iowa Department of Transportation as well as federal funds from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Competitive Highway Bridge program. “The information I have at this point is that a combination of funds will pay for 100 percent of the rehab construction,” said City Administrator Jennifer Cowsert. “The City will only need to pay engineering costs.” The bridge project is estimated at more than $820,000. Improvements include tuckpointing, a new driving surface, analysis and repair below the surface to strengthen the bridge, and new sidewalks and railings. If construction costs increase, the grant will be adjusted accordingly. “There’s a lot of paperwork involved in a project like this,” Cowsert continued, “so I would say that it will be the end of the year before we have an engineer on board, and then there will be 12-18 months needed for design. So construction might start the summer of 2021 if the plans are approved by the DOT.” The actual work will tke several months to complete. The Keystone Bridge is the longest of its type west of the Mississippi River. It’s 346 feet long and was built of locally quarried limestone in 1889. Construction of the bridge lasted nine months at a cost of $16,282. Sidewalks were added later. The bridge has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1976. “I think the historic designation helped give us get some points in the overall score to get us the funds,” Cowsert said. “It also makes it a unique project and that will impact our engineering fees. Elkader is one of only four cities to receive a share of the Competitive Highway Bridge grant. Most of the money will be allocated for the repair of county and state bridge. “We’re fortunate to get both grants, especially when you look at how few cities received the federal funds,” said Elkader Mayor Josh Pope. “To have an $800,000-plus project almost entirely paid for is very lucky.”

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