ELKADER, IOWA – The historic Keystone Bridge in downtown Elkader reopens for all traffic on December 1, 2023 having been closed since April 2022.
The Keystone Bridge, built in 1889 of locally quarried limestone, is the only access across the Turkey River in town for both cars and pedestrians.
The scheduled rehabilitation project began April 4, 2022. Shortly thereafter, a crack in the nearly 135-year-old limestone widened to a concerning width. This prompted engineers to close the bridge to all traffic, including construction and pedestrian, until a plan could be put together to stabilize the bridge. Access to pedestrians remained closed for five months, opening September 30, 2022. This delay in the project, which was originally to be done in one construction season, pushed the opening date for traffic to December 1, 2023.
The recent project removed and replaced the bridge deck with reinforced concrete and a drainage system, stabilized the downstream spandrel wall, removed and replaced the driving surface from the ends of the bridge to the closest intersections, removed and replaced the cantilevered sidewalk, and included a significant amount of stone replacement, repair, pointing and void filling. The project engineer indicated that along with routine maintenance, this project will stabilize the bridge for another 50 years.
The initial construction cost for the rehabilitation was projected to be $3,970,045, paid by a combination of state and federal monies with the City paying $655,000 for engineering plus incidentals. The current total projected cost of the project, after repairing the crack, is $7,348,517. The City is still looking for $1,957,228 so they will not have to bond more for this project.
Interested in helping? A fund has been established by local residents in order to help raise these remaining dollars in an effort to lower the needs of a bond. The Fund the Keystone project is targeted towards those who call or have called Elkader home and those who appreciate the Keystone Bridge and its historic value. Start your give online at https://fundthekeystone.com.
Although open to traffic, the project is not complete. A permanent railing on the sidewalk is being fabricated and will be installed in February or March. Some stonework continues.
A reopening ceremony is being planned for Friday, December 1, 2023 from 4pm-6pm in the Central State Bank lobby at 102 N. Main Street downtown Elkader. Coffee, hot cider, donuts and cookies will be served. There will be a silent auction of historic bridge memorabilia. The public is invited in this celebration and to join for a holiday shopping weekend in Elkader, with the Elkader Area Chamber of Commerce offering double punches on their holiday punch card promotion all weekend long! See the Facebook pages for the City of Elkader, Main Street Elkader, or the Elkader Area Chamber of Commerce for more event details.
An official rededication ceremony for the Keystone Bridge is scheduled for May 7, 2024 in collaboration with the bridge’s 135th anniversary.