Commission proposes option for Stone Bridge

Kim Brooks
Express Editor

     The Jones County Supervisors and County Engineer Derek Snead received correspondence from the Jones County Historic Preservation Commission regarding a proposed option for Ely’s Stone Bridge.

     With the bridge in disrepair, the Commission e-mailed an option for consideration, which would follow the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Historic Preservation.

     The proposal offered that the Commission would continue to work with the University of Colorado-Denver, who was in the county in September 2016 surveying the historic Stone Bridge. The continued work would produce a plan for preserving the bridge.

     Then, the Commission would look into applying for a Dubuque Racing Association (DRA) grant to assist with the purchase of materials to remedy the water drainage issue within the bridge. The team from Colorado would put together a list of needed materials.

     The proposal offers that the team of engineers from Colorado has agreed to return, free of charge, to complete the water drainage repairs this spring or early summer. They need a stretch of dry weather for the project.

     The work performed by the University of Colorado would be their match, with the county providing the materials.

     With the work and man-hours put in already by the university, plus their proposal to repair the water damage, Amy Rens with the university estimates a total in-kind contribution of $75,000 to the county.

     “That’s the value of their time with this project,” said Rose Rohr with the Commission.

     Before any physical work can begin, the plan also calls for a workday in April with volunteers and/or school-aged kids and local clubs and organizations. This day would involve clearing away debris on and around the bridge itself.

     Also, Rens would assist Rohr is applying for an HRDP (Historical Resource Development Program) grant. Rohr said the Board of Supervisors would need to sign off on this grant as owners of Stone Bridge. This grant would go toward a design for restoring the bridge.

     A design proposal would need to come from, said Rohr, an engineering company with a structural and historic preservation background.

     Once a design is in place, the Commission could then apply for a grant from the DOT. Rohr said funds from a trail grant through ECICOG may not be available until 2020.

     The proposal letter went on to state that once the water drainage issue was “addressed and corrected, the bridge will be stabilized while waiting for money for final completion of the (restoration) project.”

     Rohr added, “The bridge should last another 50 years is done totally right.”

     As chair of the Commission, Rohr said their stance is to “strictly preserve the bridge.” The other options being discussed by others such as a roadside park, are not sanctioned by the Commission.

     “Our job is to preserve the bridge,” she said.

     The University of Colorado expects to submit a structural analysis of Stone Bridge by May.

     There is also a Stone Bridge Foundation working to raise money for the project, as well as a Friends of the Bridge group assisting in those endeavors.

     During the Feb. 14 board meeting, Supervisor Joe Oswald encouraged communication between the Commission and its support groups, such as the Foundation, in whatever proposals are suggested.

     “If anything happens,” said Oswald, “the lawsuit comes back on the county.”

     County Engineer Derek Snead offered that one of solutions in the University’s report suggested adding curb to the bridge. “That’s a very costly procedure,” he warned.

     The supervisors planned to set up a joint meeting between Snead, the Commission and the bridge foundation in the near future.


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