Bridge proposal shows vision and ambition

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We’re enthusiastic about a plan to replace an eyesore of a broken railroad bridge with a sleek new pedestrian walkway that will provide new recreational opportunities for residents and visitors alike.

And we’re glad to see organizers joining forces with the Friends of Cedar Lake, and their long-standing efforts to transform that area into a public asset for our community.

Public reaction to both projects has been mixed, with detractors most commonly worrying about price tags estimated to be in the millions.

But to us, the projects — jointly billed, along with redevelopment of the former Sinclair meatpacking site, as Destination Cedar Rapids — clearly are worthwhile investments that will enhance Cedar Rapids’ core area and add to residents’ quality of life.

We’ve long supported efforts to explore the practicality of cleaning up Cedar Lake and turning it into a recreational destination in the heart of the city.

Similarly, the “Sleeping Giant,” as champions are calling the bridge project, would transform a highly visible and underused asset into a public good.

The abandoned railroad bridge partially collapsed during the 2008 flood. Proponents want to replace it — using the bridge’s existing piers and steel approaches, if possible — with a 600-foot-long biking and pedestrian bridge linking Mount Trashmore and proposed trails on the river’s east bank.

The dramatic bridge, which includes a 125-foot tall tower and lighted support cables, would be visible from Czech Village and NewBo, and would attract bicyclists and pedestrians throughout the city and beyond.

The estimated cost for the bridge is around $6 million — no small sum. Bridge backers say they’ll pursue grants and start a fundraising drive to foot the bill. They want to move forward quickly, so as to incorporate the project into east side flood protection construction scheduled to begin later this year.

We urge stakeholders and citizens to support them in their efforts. Making this project a reality will be a benefit to the community.

• Gazette editorials reflect the consensus opinion of The Gazette Editorial Board. Share your comments and ideas with us:(319) 398-8469; editorial@thegazette.com

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