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Government

Marion calls on artists for CeMar pedestrian bridge

Marion residents Judy Saluri and Tom Saluri look over the four possible CeMar Trail Bridge to replace the Marion Boulevard Rail Bridge at the Marion City Hall on Thursday, June 7, 2018. (Hannah Schroeder/The Gazette)
Marion residents Judy Saluri and Tom Saluri look over the four possible CeMar Trail Bridge to replace the Marion Boulevard Rail Bridge at the Marion City Hall on Thursday, June 7, 2018. (Hannah Schroeder/The Gazette)
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MARION — City officials have called on creative minds to add elements of art to Marion’s future CeMar Trail bridge over Marion Boulevard.

Proposed as a gateway feature for the community’s core, the pedestrian CeMar Trail bridge will span Marion Boulevard at the location of the current railroad bridge near where Marion Boulevard and Second Street meet.

Kesha Billings, Marion associate planner, said the bridge will be well within city boundaries but still could serve as a welcoming sign to motorists along Marion Boulevard.

“This is kind of the gateway to our uptown, to our central corridor. We want to make a pop, a statement,” Billings said.

What’s more, CeMar Trail is part of a growing trails system and should greet pedestrians as well, Billings said.

The project currently is out for an environmental impact review, but the plan is to demolish the existing rail bridge and replace it with a 16-foot-wide pedestrian bridge. Billings said demolition should begin this year.

All told, demolition and construction of a new bridge has a projected cost of $1.5 million. According to a request for qualifications document for artists, if the art elements in the project run over $150,000, they may require additional grants.

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Depending on what sort of features the artists proposes, additions to the bridge could be included in the design process, Billings said.

Ultimately, Billings said the city is including minimal guidelines in the call for artists. The hope is that artists will use their creativity when proposing artwork.

“That’s why we’re trying to leave it open. We know there are great ideas out there,” Billings said.

Applications will be accepted online through March 8. Submissions will be reviewed and the Marion City Council is expected to select an artist in early May.

Billings noted the call for artists only includes the bridge over Marion Boulevard, not the nearby bridge over Indian Creek. That structure could be preserved in some capacity, she said.

• Comments: (319) 398-8309; mitchell.schmidt@thegazette.com

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