Bertram works to replace bridge lost to 2014 flooding

A Coralville engineering firm has been hired to help the city replace its historic Ely road bridge

The S. Ely Street bridge of Big Creek was washed away near Bertram on Monday June 30, 2014. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCR
The S. Ely Street bridge of Big Creek was washed away near Bertram on Monday June 30, 2014. (Cliff Jette/The Gazette-KCRG TV9)

BERTRAM — City officials here are making plans to replace an historic, one-lane bridge that flash flooding in June knocked down into Big Creek below.

Mayor James Drahos said the City Council has hired engineering firm VJ Engineering of Coralville to help the city as it makes plans to replace the bridge at Ely Street, which provides a connection to the city from a Linn County road to the southeast.

Drahos said the city is working with the Federal Emergency Management Agency with the expectation that FEMA may pay 75 percent of the cost of the replacement bridge with the state of Iowa also a possible partner in the project funding, he said.

The mayor put the potential cost of the new bridge at $1 million to $1.5 million.

Drahos said replacing the century-old bridge with a replica is complicated because today’s codes and standards call for a two-lane bridge not a one-lane one. A replica metal bridge would be more costly than a concrete bridge as well, he said.

The mayor said the city hopes that it might be in a position to move dirt on the bridge project by the mid-to-late summer of 2015.

Bidding for the project will include work to remove the fallen bridge from the creek, he said.

Linn County Supervisor Brent Oleson, whose supervisor district includes Bertram, said Linn County could sell bonds to help front costs that the city of Bertram might face in the bridge project with the expectation that Bertram then would pay off the debt over time.

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