The arches on the Grand Avenue bridge have served as symbol of Des Moines since 1918. The iconic look is staying put but at a cost.
The people had their chance, and the majority of those who used it got their way.
“I had more people stop me to say ‘We want the arches,’” said councilwoman, Christine Hensley.
Of the 402 people who filled out the Grand Avenue bridge survey, 70% said they favored spending an extra $2 million to recreate the arch pattern of the original bridge.
“I was slightly surprised,” said councilman, Joe Gatto, “but you know, it’s on our flag.”
Council voted in step with the survey results. The fancy design passed, 6-1.
Naysayers don’t like it, but again, they had their chance.
“I think that the city of Des Moines has a lot of needs,” said councilman Skip Moore, who cast the lone dissenting vote, “and some of our residents are worried because their needs aren’t being taken care of but we’re going to spend $2 million to put a façade on a bridge.”
While aesthetics seemed to drive the vote, no one argues that the new bridge brings function, too.
“I think we can’t lose sight of the fact that this is a flood-control measure as well,” said councilman Chris Chambers. “And that has a huge payoff for the citizens of Des Moines.”
The new $12-million bridge will be higher and have fewer footings in the river. That could help take pressure off city levees upstream. The cheaper designs would have done that, too, but without the style of the current bridge.
“I just think that it needs special attention,” said Hensley, “and there’s a lot of historical significance there and I’d like to see us replicate that and clearly the citizens feel the same way.”
Those who don’t can say they’ve got a new beef with the city, but they can’t say they didn’t have their chance.
The choice was the second most expensive on the questionnaire, but came in cheaper than the real arched bridge design, which would have cost $32-million.