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Keystone Bridge Rehab Award

ELKADER, IOWA – The State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees has selected the City of Elkader as the recipient of the 2024 Excellence in Archaeology and Historic Preservation Award for the Keystone Bridge Rehabilitation Project. Board member Dr. Terry Lindell presented the award during a rededication ceremony held for the bridge on May 7, 2024.

The bridge recently underwent a complete rehabilitation project that began in April 2022. After a protracted construction schedule, the bridge was finally reopened to traffic 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 cantilevered sidewalk,

  • and included a significant amount of stone replacement, repair, pointing and void filling.

The extra construction schedule was due to a crack that widen during construction of the 135 year old limestone bridge. Repair of the crack added a year to the construction schedule and $3 million to the total cost.

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 is $7,348,517. The City will need to finance another $2 million for their portion of the project.

State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees Member Terry Lindell said while presenting the award “The community effort to preserve the Keystone Bridge has been nothing short of incredible. Your entire community has shown the importance of the Keystone Bridge by working hard to keep the bridge and being willing to pay for the work to keep this bridge!”

He noted “across the state, we see many communities face projects like this - but with different endings. Your community chose to save the Keystone Bridge and not replace it, relocate it, or watch it fall into further disrepair. You gathered resources to accomplish a preservation project that ended up being much larger than anticipated.”

Mayor Josh R. Pope said that historic preservation has always been important to the small, rural city of 1,209 residents. “This is evidenced by the eleven sites and a downtown district that are on the National Register of Historic Places.”

Pope notes that “after the crack was discovered and the new cost estimate and time schedule were presented to the City Council, there wasn’t much discussion. Completing the rehab of the iconic landmark had to be done.”

The Excellence in Archaeology and Historic Preservation Award recognizes the best archaeology or historic preservation project at the local or state level. All types of preservation work are included and the award is not exclusive to building preservation.

Award winners will be honored by the State Historical Society of Iowa Board of Trustees in Des Moines, Iowa, on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 12. However, with the rededication of the bridge planned for May 7th, the Board felt it was appropriate to share the news of the award at this time.




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