Springfield considers purchase of historic Kern Bridge
During the last City Council meeting, July 21 2020, council members agreed to send a letter of intent to learn more about purchasing the historic Kern Bridge, a 189-foot single-span bowstring arch bridge built in 1873.
The Kern Bridge is one of the oldest bridges in Minnesota and is made from wrought iron, a rare type of bridge material. It is the only bow-string arch bridge in Minnesota and is the longest of its type in the nation.
MnDOT partnered with Blue Earth County to save the bridge, carefully dismantling it and loading it into sealed containers.
“The Kern Bridge would be an attractive addition to a bike and pedestrian trail,” said Katie Haun Schuring, MnDOT historian who serves on the selection task force. “While our main goal is to see the bridge reused and for many people to experience this unique structure, it would be ideal if the bridge could be in a similar setting to its historic one—over water.”
Joe Stremcha, City Manager and Director of Economic Development, explained to the council that preliminary estimates to purchase the bridge are around $1.5 million. However, there will be an 80/20 split. There are federal funds are available to cover 80 percent of the cost.
Stremcha further explained that the bridge would be an extension of Riverside Park. He envisions it placed on the trail on the east side of the Community Center crossing the river into the park.
The bridge at 189 feet would fit just about perfectly in that location, said Stremcha during the meeting.
Not only would the bridge extend Riverside Park, taking the extension out of the flood zone, it would also make a nice walking path. With new interest in holding weddings on bridges, the city could see a benefit in that area. Since this is an unique one-of-a-kind bridge it could bring in more tourists to the community as well.
See complete story in this week's issue of the Springfield Advance-Press.