by Mitchell Kirk
Construction of a bridge that will connect the Eel River Run trail and River Bluff Trail over the Eel River will begin today.
The paved bridge, which will cross the river on the east side of Riverside Park, will be 10 feet wide, about 300-feet long and will feature black-painted rails and two pairs of limestone-clad pillars.
The project will cost around $1.2 million and is being funded by a match grant from the Indiana Department of Transportation. The 20 percent match was contributed by the family of local businessman Milt Cole, president of Cole Hardwood.
Indianapolis-based landscape architecture firm Green 3 created the design for the bridge. Construction management firm RW Armstrong, also out of Indianapolis, will be working on the project.
The River Bluff Trail, which is owned by the Logansport Memorial Hospital Foundation, was completed in 2003 and goes from the north side of the Eel River to the Hervey Preserve. Construction of the bridge will be completed by the end of 2013, said Vicki Byrd, vice president for planning and development at Logansport Memorial Hospital.
She said trail visitors can expect the width of the trail near construction areas to decrease and intermittent closures as well.
“We’ll try to give the public as much notice as possible but that’s going to depend on contractors notifying us,” Byrd said. “It’s for safety purposes more than anything. We don’t want people out there when they have equipment operating.”
Jan Fawley, Logansport parks administrator, said areas of Riverside park will experience closings as well.
The pre-fabricated bridge will come in three sections, which will be lowered onto pilings by a crane atop a causeway on the river.
The Eel River Run trail, which will lead up to the bridge on the river’s south side, was completed in November. The bridge will serve as a link allowing people to access recreational areas all over the city, said Mercedes Brugh, chairwoman of the Eel River Run Committee.
“This bridge is key because it connects two very valuable community assets — Riverside Park and the trails on the south side, and the hospital trail and the preserve and Huston Park on the north side,” Brugh said.
Byrd said this connection will establish a more complete trail system within the city.
“There aren’t a lot of communities our size that have a trail system, and that’s what this is becoming — a trail system that’s inside of city limits,” Byrd said. “It enables people to get from one area of the community to the other for recreational activities.”
Byrd, Fawley and Brugh said their next plan for the trail system is to develop a trail that will connect the east side of the Hervey Preserve to Huston Park.
Mitchell Kirk is a staff reporter at the Pharos-Tribune. He can be reached at 574-732-5130 or firstname.lastname@example.org.