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Bridge in the future

Kenyon Road Bridge replacement looming

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Tony Gustafson, assistant district engineer for the Iowa Department of Transportation’s District 1 in Ames, looks over large prints showing the proposed detour and traffic routing plans for the Kenyon Road Bridge replacement project during a public information meeting Tuesday at the Fort Dodge Public Library. The Iowa DOT is seeking public input on the traffic routing. The bridge project is expected to start in 2023.

The Iowa Department of Transportation is scheduled to replace the two westbound bridges that carry Kenyon Road across the Des Moines River and the railroad tracks on the Pleasant Valley side in 2023.

That means detours around the work while the old bridges are taken down and the new ones put up.

Tony Gustafson, an assistant district engineer for the Iowa DOT’s District 1 Office in Ames, was on hand Tuesday afternoon at the Fort Dodge Public Library to seek the public’s input on how the DOT should reroute traffic once work starts.

Large prints laid on tables showed two basic options.

One is to convert the current two eastbound lanes of traffic to two-way traffic. Drivers coming from either direction would funnel into one lane as they crossed the bridge.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
The steel truss arch bridge over the Des Moines River in Fort Dodge is due for replacement in 2023. The bridge carries two lanes of Kenyon Road’s westbound traffic.

The other option is to leave the eastbound traffic lanes as they are now and then divert the westbound traffic north through downtown then west across the Karl King Viaduct (Second Avenue South) all the way to U.S. Highway 169 then south to the junction with Business 20.

“We can build it either way,” Gustafson said.

One of the spans across the Des Moines River is a steel truss arch bridge similar in construction to the I-35 Bridge that collapsed on Aug. 1, 2007, in Minneapolis. It’s the bridge that will be replaced.

While the design isn’t finalized yet, Gustafson said it will be a concrete structure. The east bridge, currently a steel girder type, will be replaced with another steel bridge to maintain clearance for the tracks.

He said once it starts, he expects the bridge project to take about 18 months.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen The collection of spans known as the Kenyon Road Bridge is actually composed of four different types of bridges.

Current construction estimates are $6.5 million for the river span and $8 million for the east span.

“They’re very expensive,” Gustafson said. “They’re big.”

He also said that the project may be delayed until 2024, depending on budgeting and fiscal allocations.

“It’s pushing $15 million for the two,” he said. “It will be $15 million if it’s delayed.”

Comments on the traffic rerouting will be accepted until March 2.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
A large limb rests against the westbound section of the Kenyon Road Bridge.

The public may do so via mail at Iowa DOT District 1 Office, attn. Tony Gustafson, 1020 S. Fourth St., Ames, Iowa 50010 or by email at tony.gustafson@iowadot.us.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
After the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis, the Iowa DOT stepped up inspection and maintenance on a similar bridge that carries Kenyon Road’s westbound traffic across the Des Moines River in Fort Dodge.

-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
A bird rests on the framing of the westbound section of the Kenyon Road Bridge where it crosses the railroad tracks on the Pleasant Valley Side of the Des Moines River. This span is due for replacement in 2023.

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