Future of historic Lincoln Highway Bridge discussed at Tama city council meeting

T-R PHOTO BY JONATHAN MEYER The deterioration of the Lincoln Highway Bridge, which is currently closed to traffic, has been a concern both for the Tama city council and residents, some local and some traveling from as far as California to share what it means to them.

TAMA — The Tama City Council had an over two-hour session on Monday starting off with an hour long public hearing for any and all citizens who wanted their opinions on the Lincoln Highway Bridge situation known. One man came as far away as California for the meeting simply to tell the council members how much the bridge means to him.

Generally, there were three pools of thought from the audience when it came to the structure, which was constructed in 1914. The first group of citizens thinks the town should do everything it can for the historic bridge as it is a historical landmark. Group two thinks the town should do anything to get Fifth Street back up in working order for everyone, including truckers and farmers who find it an inconvenience. Group three wants to compromise and for everyone just to get along.

“I can not tell you how many people come in over the years to our museum while they are here visiting the bridge,” Joan Hayward Helm, a longtime volunteer at the Tama County Historical Society, said. “People come, and they visit this iconic bridge, and it’s a win-win for all of southern Tama County.”

Randy Zimmerman with Z-Line in Tama offered a different perspective.

“I’m probably the big bad trucking company that has used the bridge some,” he said. “We definitely need that truck route. Business Route 30 only leads to Toledo. It doesn’t come into Tama.”

After answering different questions and hearing different opinions for an hour, Engineer Kelli Scott with Snyder and Associates weighed in on the matter.

“I know a lot of this is not gonna be a popular opinion. I know it right now. I know people want to blame the truck traffic for the deterioration of the bridge, and that is not the problem,” Scott said. “The problem is you have this historic bridge that no one has maintained. It is a lack of maintenance that has caused this problem, not the traffic. And for everyone saying how important it is to keep it, why was it not important 25 years ago? Or 50 years ago?”

After the council heard from everyone who had something to say, they closed the public hearing.

During the regular council meeting, a few local citizens stood up to speak out in support of saving Cherry Lake. The council assured them that they are working on a multitude of possible solutions.

On the subject of the Lincoln Highway Bridge, the council decided to move forward in closing out the current project with Boulder Contracting and to proceed with bridge modification and utilization of federal funds. They also decided to utilize their current contract with Snyder and Associates and continue moving forward.

A public hearing for the Lift Station screen replacement had no comments. The project should be done by the end of the year and the council accepted the bid of Woodruff Construction for $297,300.


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