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Pedestrian Bridge Near Park Avenue Elementary Coming Down, Others May Follow

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On Monday, the Des Moines City Council voted that the bridge at Southwest 9th Street and Park Avenue will come down next summer.

Two similar bridges near Windsor Elementary and on University near Howe Elementary on Indianola may come next.

The city says the bridges, constructed in the 70s and 80s, are in rough shape.

“Holes in the decking on the bridge, we’ve had some falling concrete from the bridges as well,” said City Traffic Engineer Jennifer McCoy.

McCoy says the bridge at Southwest 9th and Park will be replaced by an upgraded intersection to help students at the nearby Park Ave. Elementary cross the street.

The intersection will have digital speed notification signs for drivers, cross walks, and a new traffic signal with an “advance pedestrian phase”.

“It allows the intersection to be held on all-red while the pedestrians get the walk indication when the button is pushed. They’re allowed to get out into traffic in advance of the traffic getting the green light so the pedestrians have a better visibility of the vehicle and the vehicle has better visibility of the pedestrians,” said McCoy.

But some parents of the schoolchildren aren't happy, and would rather see the city spend their money on repairing the bridges.

“They say it costs too much to repair it. If they spend all that money for the other stuff I don’t understand, I don’t know what the difference is. At least the kids are up off the street and don’t have to cross directly,” said David Swinehart, a students grandfather.

The cost of replacing the three bridges comes in at $1.07 million; the cost of repairing them more than doubles the bill at $2.5 million. Parents, however, say that would be money well spent.

“I think this is more important than a regular bridge because at least when you’re in a car your surrounded you're safe you know, whatever, but these kids are small,” said father Chad Howard.

City officials say children crossing at street level is by far the most common way kids cross the street metro-wide, and are confident that the improvements, along with retaining the school’s crossing guards will keep students safe.

The city council is waiting to give the go-ahead for the two other bridges until they decide on how they will be replaced. That decision is expected in November.