Iron Ore bridge qualifies for state funding
Jodi Summit
J. Summit
The Iron Ore bridge is on the list of worst bridges in the state and qualifies for state funding for replacement.

TOWER- Tower’s Iron Ore bridge, a rusting single-span bridge that crosses the East Two River adjacent to the former Iron Ore Bar had been identified as structurally deficient, and at one point in time was slated for removal. The city had successfully argued that the bridge serves as an essential second exit on the west edge of town and asked that it remain to serve local traffic. The bridge connects the Civic Center area with Harbor Drive, connecting to Highway 135. If the Highway 169 bridge wer ever closed, the bridge serves as the only other exit on that side of town.

At Monday’s council meeting, city officials got some good news from city engineer Matt Bolf. The bridge had made it onto a list of the worst bridges in the state, he said, and by doing so, had qualified for state funding for replacement.

Bolf explained that a new state program would pay 80 percent of the construction costs. The city would be responsible for the remaining construction costs, along with engineering costs. But, Bolf said, additional grant monies might be available from other state bridge funds, which would most likely cover the remaining costs.

The council voted to enter into an agreement with St. Louis County to replace the bridge, and to approve a contract with SEH to provide the engineering services required, at an estimated cost of $66,700 for engineering and planning work, and $9,000 for administrative services. SEH estimated their work would be completed by fall, which would allow the project to be funded for construction as early as 2015.

The total cost for the project, Bolf said, may be close to a million dollars.

Council member Billy Hiltunen asked whether or not a “frog bridge” would be required. The construction of a frog throughway under the new Highway 169 bridge significantly added to the final cost of that project. Bolf reassured the council that a frog bridge would not be required. Plans call for a single span box beam on concrete abutments supported on pilings.

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4 comments on this item

It would really be nice if this bridge could be restored to preserve the history of this part of Tower. I remember crossing that bridge in the early 50's before 169 was re-routed.

Nice thought, OC. I enjoy antiques, including you and me. A historical bridge would qualify, but in this instance it would be wise to replace the bridge with one wide enough for vehicles to meet safely.

If I was City Engineer, I would look for alternative locations to cross the river, still connecting town to 135. Could the harbor project be improved if the bridge was farther east?

rickster: I like your idea. I do tend to live in the past. I remember the bridge, we crossed it in the early 50's in our 1952 Chevrolet on our way to Ely once a year. We stopped at the spring in Soudan to pick up water (1quart in my father's canteen bought from Virginia Surplus when it was located on 2nd Avenue between the Co-Op store and the Co-Op Mortuary, and 2 quarts in a mason jar "Atlas") and then we stopped at the wayside rest east of Soudan. My father made coffee over an open fire in a black & white enamel coffee pot and the cups were also black & white enamel. That was our version of a vacation trip. Tower was booming in those days, the White House always had people coming and going, they had 3 car dealerships (Arrowhead Garage, Burgess Chevrolet and Grahek Ford), and another tavern on the east end, I think it was Skala's. A clothing store, a drug store, 2 large grocery stores, the Marjo Hotel. Take me back to the 50's, I'd feel much better than I do today.

There is a good argument for saving or replacing it. My guess would be repair in it's current location is required for funding.

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