Less than eight months after restricting travel over the Cedar Valley Nature Trail bridge spanning Wolf Creek in La Porte City, engineers have now closed it to all traffic.
In a story first reported by The Progress Review in February, structural issues were discovered earlier this year during a scheduled inspection of the bridge located near the gazebo at Lions Park. At that time, the bridge was deemed safe enough for hikers and bikers, but not for motorized traffic. On September 10, a follow-up inspection revealed further decay, prompting Black Hawk County Conservation to issue the following statement:
“The Wolf Creek Bridge that carries the Cedar Valley Nature Trail over Wolf Creek in La Porte City has been closed. Engineers have inspected this bridge and determined that; due to the number of structural members that are either failed or are severely compromised, a load capacity for the bridge cannot be determined and it has been recommended that the bridge be closed in the interest of public safety. The Black Hawk County Conservation Board will continue to work with engineers to seek a solution.”
The closing of the bridge marks another interruption of the 52 mile long Cedar Valley Nature Trail, which runs from Cedar Falls to Hiawatha. In 2008, floodwaters damaged two trail bridges spanning the Cedar River. In 2011, construction of the bridge located in Evansdale was completed. Two additional years of fundraising resulted in the construction and dedication of the second bridge located at McFarlane Park near La Porte City.
The rapid decay of the structural support necessary to maintain the integrity of the bridge is related, in part, to a wooden beam that has rotted from the inside out, which is why the inspection earlier this year was so surprising. With cost estimates to replace the bridge in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, neither county nor city budgets were prepared to address the situation during the fiscal year that ended in June, nor has sufficient funding been found for a replacement bridge to be built during Fiscal Year 2016. While there have been preliminary discussions related to seeking an alternative route that would bypass the existing bridge, Black Hawk County Conservation and the City have not yet found a permanent solution to the problem.