Dear Editor:

I attended the meeting of the CLG and Historic Commission of Winneshiek and Fort Atkinson recently. I was under and on top of that bridge and I see the issues with the substructure. Fixing those issues and restoring that bridge would cost much less than installing a new concrete bridge and approach roads.

I can't imagine why a bridge there would be necessary as it serves so few people and there is a highway and bridge less than a mile away. This bridge has historic significance that goes beyond most, designed and built by an Iowan, D.H. (Daniel) Young who built 43 bridges and only one extant. Senator Young was an Iowa State student and was very important in the development of the road and rail systems in Iowa.

The group will approach you (Winneshiek Co. Engineer Lee Bjerke and Iowa DOT) and the supervisors and would like an estimate for repair before pursuing your options for replacement. Workin' Bridges can provide that and I told them a cost of $2,000 would give them a scope of work and estimate.

Getting in front of the Section 106 process and showing due diligence at this stage in providing information is important. That bridge stands for something and has for 110 years. We need a better system in Iowa for analyzing and appraising these bridges, it can't just be part of the regular inspection process.

In the interest of full disclosure, I wanted you all to know that for a town of 320 people, a new crossing there seems a little strange. I wonder what goes into the thought process. Moving the bridge into the park is an option, but few grants are available if it is moved to a place not over a river. It could stay in place and be part of a trail system if your bridge was to go in upstream, although I still think it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to engage in this particular building activity.

I also stopped at the bowstring and found out that the verticals are not star iron although they might still work for our project. It was difficult to see that in pictures and as always site visits are required.