Price to Rebuild Cedar Bridge Goes Up, Covered Bridge Festival Hopes to Bring Donations

WINTERSET, Iowa -- The Madison County Chamber of Commerce knew that the cost to replace the Cedar Bridge would be costly.

“When we first had estimates of what it was going to cost to rebuild cedar bridge in the manner that we want with the steel it was just under $600,000” said Chamber Executive Director Heather Riley.

The target of a 2017 arson, steel would make the bridge more fireproof, and it was less expensive than going all wood.  However, the Trump Administration's tariffs on foreign steel is raising the price.

“Now we've committed to a $720,000 project because that's the price” said Riley.

The tariffs have put them $190,000 short of their goal. The chamber hopes the weekend’s covered bridge festival helps bring them closer to reaching it.

“People who come here love Madison County, love the community, love our covered bridges, so we think they'll want to help us out” said Riley.

Those people include Ken Marek, a photographer from Omaha who didn’t realize the bridge had burned down. He had planned to take pictures on Friday.

“Oh, I thought, ‘what a drag’. Why would somebody do something like that?” said Marek.

He says photographers all over the area cherish the Bridges of Madison County.

Not only unique, but the historical factor of them. They used these bridges years and years ago to get from point A to point B, it's really special” he said.

Despite the increased cost, Riley says the hope is to have the replaced bridge in place next October; the 50th anniversary of the covered bridge festival.

“That'll be a fantastic year anyway, a lot to celebrate, but to have Cedar Bridge on top of all that will really put us over the top” she said.

The covered bridge festival kicks off Saturday morning at 9 a.m. The three teens convicted of the Cedar Bridge arson were each sentenced to probation this year.