116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
A historic bridge spanning the Cedar River along Highway 30 between Cedar Rapids and Mount Vernon will be torn down and replaced next year.
Only the eastbound bridge lanes, built in 1953, will be replaced since the westbound lanes were added in the 1970s.
For those who travel along the busy highway — about 24,000 vehicles a day — traffic won’t change that much until April, when demolition begins. Drivers, however, can expect some lane reductions this winter as crews build the crossover that will shift traffic during construction.
Work started on the project in July.
“Currently, they’ve been working on the crossovers so when the time comes, they will be able to move eastbound traffic to the current westbound side, so the contractor will be able to get their work done as quickly as possible,” said Shane Neuhaus, resident construction engineer for the Iowa Department of Transportation in District 6, which includes Linn County.
“River traffic is also requested to keep out of the area due to the hazards of the construction,” he said. “Signs are already placed now to keep out.”
Cramer & Associates of Grimes is the primary contractor on the $10.3 million project.
During the winter, crews will work on substructure of the bridge and build causeways in the Cedar River to assist with the construction, Neuhaus said.
Construction is scheduled to take 120 working days, with completion expected by Nov. 11, 2022.
“The working days aren’t always easy to quantify because if it storms or if the river is high, that doesn’t count as a working day,” Neuhaus said.
Neuhaus said the top of the bridge will be the same elevation as the old bridge but the bottom will be a couple of feet higher.
“You will get some more room under the bridge for water if there is any flooding,” he said.
The bridge replacement isn’t the first major project Highway 30 has seen in the last few years. In 2019, the long-anticipated Highway 30 bypass project near Mount Vernon and Lisbon was completed.
The $28 million bypass widened 8 miles of highway from west of Mount Vernon (at Wilcox Road) to east of Lisbon (at Charles Avenue).
Mount Vernon Mayor Jamie Hampton said the projects along Highway 30 have been a long time coming, though the construction can be a little frustrating for residents, many of whom commute to jobs in Cedar Rapids.
“Obviously, there’s work that needs to be done and that will create inconveniences, we are used to the major construction projects and people will adapt,” he said. “Sometimes, communication between state projects and communities isn’t always the best for when they start or how long they are going to last. As communities, we roll with what happens as best we can.”
The current bridge was eligible for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places, according to the Iowa DOT’s website, because it’s an early example of the welded I-girder bridge and was the first of its type to be built in Iowa.
The bridge was built by the Iowa Bridge Co. of Des Moines for $532,708 — about $835,000 in today’s dollars. Construction began in November 1951 and was open to traffic Nov. 10, 1953.
The bridge was available for use or relocation, but not without some needed updates, Neuhaus said.
As it stands now, the state plans to recycle pieces of the bridge, with the metal going to a scrap yard. If possible, the concrete will be sent to a crusher and reused on another project, he said.
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