Old bridge will complete Mitchell bike path100-year-old Charles Mix structure coming to town this summer.
By: Ross Dolan, The Daily Republic
An old iron bridge in Charles Mix County will get new life when it’s moved to Mitchell this summer.
The 100-year old pony truss structure, which sits closed on a little-used road southeast of Geddes, will put the finishing touch on a 2.5-mile packed-gravel recreational trail built last year by Mitchell city workers. The path parallels railroad tracks that stretch from 23rd Avenue (Cemetery Road) through an undeveloped area to the west end of Lake Mitchell, where it connects with a paved path.
Since the packed-gravel path was built, there’s been an unfinished section.
“Right now, if you want to take that part of the trail, you’ve got to wade across 50 feet of rocky, mucky water,” Mitchell Public Works Director Tim McGannon said. “Some people are riding across the creek and others are carrying their bikes across.”
The 50-foot long and roughly 16-foot wide bridge will be installed by late summer and will span an unnamed creek that drains into Lake Mitchell.
Installing the bridge will cost about $240,000, with $180,000 coming from grant funds and the rest from city coffers.
The span will be the second recycled bridge on Mitchell’s system of recreational trails.
In 2010, the city installed an old truss bridge, originally from rural Davison County, over the canal near The Island residential development on Lake Mitchell as a bicycle-pedestrian bridge. That program used $150,000 in grant money and $50,000 in city funds.
Ron Gillen, of White Lake and a senior engineer for Brosz Engineering, the consulting engineer for the project, said his company will handle engineering duties for the Geddes bridge. Both bridges are about 50 feet in length, but the two projects have some differences.
Gillen said the bridge at The Island was narrowed from its original 16-foot width to roughly 9 feet wide.
The Geddes bridge, which was built around 1910, will remain unchanged, save for the addition of new decking planks and a higher safety rail, Gillen said.
A bollard, or steel blocking post, will be installed at either end of the bridge to keep all but very lightweight maintenance vehicles from crossing.
“It’s a little newer than the first bridge and it has a lattice rail,” Gillen said. “It’s really nice.”
Gillen said it will be his company’s job to design the abutments the bridge will rest upon.
It will be up to Brosz Engineering to let bids for a subcontractor who will remove the old bridge from its Charles Mix location over a tributary of Pease Creek and install it at its new Mitchell location.
Gillen said he was aware of the bridge from his years as an engineer with the state Department of Transportation and brought it to the city’s attention several years ago.
“Pony truss bridges like this are historical structures; as such, they can’t simply be cut up and sold for scrap iron,” he said.
Counties who decide to get rid of such bridges must find a sponsor who will promise to place and maintain the structure.
The city of Mitchell will be the new sponsor of the Pease Creek bridge. The city did not pay for the bridge but it will assume the responsibility for moving, placing and maintaining it, Gillen said.
The county-to-city transfer must be recorded with the DOT’s local government office in Pierre, which is charged with making certain the bridge is maintained and not destroyed, Gillen said.
He added that safety considerations will be an integral part of the bridge installation.
“Because of recent bridge issues around the country, we’ll do our load calculations with the assumption that the bridge would be packed with about 400 people,” he said.