Commercial Club of Springfield has successfully completed a campaign to raise $50,000 to support efforts to rehabilitate the Jefferson Avenue Footbridge. The Jefferson Avenue Footbridge Fund was established last year at Community Foundation of the Ozarks.
In celebration, the Commercial Club hosted donors who had purchased memorial pavers to view their pavers April 6 at the Footbridge Plaza, and “to accept the gratitude of the community for their contribution to the next 100 years of life for this unique, historic structure,” Commercial Club President Mary Collette said.
Springfield’s 116-year old footbridge was closed March 1, 2016 after Public Works inspectors found corrosion and steel loss in the north support column. While the bridge was not in imminent danger, it was deemed in the public’s best interest to close the bridge to conduct a full evaluation and determine repair options.
Public Works hired Great River Engineering (GRE) to conduct an in-depth structural evaluation of the bridge. GRE is a Springfield-based civil engineering firm that has rehabilitated several bridges in the region – Riverside Bridge and Mill Pond Bridge in Ozark, Devil’s Elbow Bridge in Pulaski County and the Meramec River U.S. 66 Bridge in Eureka.
GRE conducted an in-depth structural evaluation on the local footbridge that included: observation/field inspection; qualitative evaluation; quantitative evaluation and rehabilitation recommendations.
Utilizing findings from GRE’s evaluation, the City hosted various public open houses to inform the public of the challenges facing the bridge. Public input was gathered in multiple phases to gauge the level of community support for a rehabilitation effort and to determine the direction for various design aspects of the rehabilitation.
The project is currently under review by the State Historic Preservation Office and various consulting groups through the section 106 process with meetings to take place sometime in mid-April. Following this process, final engineering design of the rehabilitation will be completed before placing project the up for bid. The estimated $2.5 million project is expected to begin near the end of 2019 and be completed by the end of 2020.
The memorial pavers will be installed by Springfield Public Works in the Footbridge Plaza area of the project at a later date. The pavers (in two sizes and ranging in price from $100 – $500,) will continue to be on sale and will continue to be available through Commercial Club of Springfield at their website historicCstreet.com where the form can be filled out online and pavers paid for via Paypal. Funds raised through these ongoing efforts will be used for upkeep and regularly-scheduled maintenance for years to come.
“It’s very exciting news that the $50,000 funding goal of Springfield Commercial Club has been reached,” said Zone 1 Councilwoman Phyllis Ferguson. “Attaining this milestone represents the true commitment that Springfieldians (and beyond) and Commercial Street stakeholders have to re-open this beautiful and architecturally unique historic structure in north Springfield.”
Mary Collette, president of Commercial Club said, “We so appreciate the strong support of community members who stepped forward to support rehabilitation of this amazing, historic structure which belongs to all of Springfield. We owe it to the community to preserve and protect it as a pedestrian walkway across active rail lines, a tourism destination and for future generations as the ‘Eiffel Tower of Springfield’ the only structure of its kind anywhere in the United States.”
The Jefferson Avenue Footbridge was built in 1902 and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The 562-foot-long bridge allows pedestrians to cross 13 tracks of the Burlington Northern rail yard from Chase Street to Commercial Street and has done so for 116 years.