The replacement of the Daley Bridge north of Bluffton could begin later this year, but likely won’t be completed until next year, according to Winneshiek County Engineer Lee Bjerke.
The bridge over the Upper Iowa River north of Bluffton collapsed in May when a grain semi/trailer weighing nearly 30 tons attempted to cross the bridge that had a posted three-ton load limit. The driver, Justin Hippen, 29, Parkersburg, was not injured and was charged with violating a weight embargo and failure to obey a traffic control device.
The county recently reached a $140,000 settlement for the damage to the bridge with the insurance company for Sinclair Elevator, which employed Hippen. Bjerke said the estimate for a new bridge is $900,000 to $1 million.
Built in 1874, the Daley Bridge was a bowstring bridge listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Bjerke said the settlement was for the value of its remaining life.
According to a 2013 traffic count, 30 vehicles crossed the bridge daily. The old bridge was open to car traffic and the new bridge will be 24-feet wide, and will accommodate all legal loads and farm implements, Bjerke said. Federal Bridge Replacement money will cover 80 percent of the cost of the new bridge, with the remainder coming from local funding.
The engineer said he’s waiting to get National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) approval of the proposed bridge replacement to begin securing right of way for the project.
The new concrete beam bridge will be located down stream from the old structure and will sit “much higher,” Bjerke said.
The bottom of the bridge beams must be three feet higher than the 100-year flood level.
“It will sit about six feet higher than the old bridge. We’ll have to get it up in the air and build the approaches to it. It’s going to be a lot different than what is there now,” he said.
Bjerke said three landowners would be affected by the project. The location of the canoe landing also is something that needs to be worked out. Currently it’s partially on right of way and partially on private property.
When the needed right of ways are obtained, Bjerke said a bid letting could be scheduled for June or July, but he doesn’t foresee the new structure being completed before winter.
“I’ve heard the bridge contractors are getting pretty full (with work). It may be a project that could start at the end of the season they could work on until winter shuts them down, and then wait for spring to start again. The farther we get this fall, the better off we are. We’ll see what happens,” he said.

Chimney Rock
Another bridge near Bluffton – a 100-year-old Pratt thru high truss – has been closed since August of 2016 when the Upper Iowa flooded.
Bjerke said originally there were plans to repair the bridge, but it’s now been determined the bridge should be replaced with a new structure up stream. The existing bridge, located near a county park, will remain in place but closed to traffic. The engineer said he’s hoping the new bridge on Chimney Rock Road will be built during the summer of 2019.