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The Linn County Biechler Bridge

Challenge

With 217,000 residents spread out across 725 square miles, Linn County, Iowa, wants to connect the southwest and northwest sides of Cedar Rapids, its county seat. Each side of town has a trail system; a bridge spanning the Cedar River near Highway 100 would join the trail spanning from 42nd Street in Cedar Rapids to Morgan Creek Park in Palo, as well as to Fairfax.

Solution

Ongoing involvement with the Linn County trail system inspired Shive-Hattery’s design for the proposed Biechler Bridge, which is set to be named after long-time Linn County Conservation Director Dan Biechler.

When Iowa’s first railroad systems were established, they traveled through wide-open prairie. As the surrounding land began to develop, however, the prairieland disappeared – except at protected railroad easements. Taking a cue from the nearby 20-acre Rock Island Botanical State Preserve, Shive-Hattery’s “railroad prairie” design concept connects parkland on the Cedar River’s east and west banks.

The proposed design pays tribute to the county’s original railroad bridge, the Milwaukee Road Cedar River Bridge, by reconstructing a classic truss bridge atop existing stone piers. The lower level evokes the feel of Iowa’s historic covered bridges.

To communicate Linn County’s vision to residents, Shive-Hattery prepared a full-color rendering to bring the Biechler Bridge to life.

Impact

Once complete, the Biechler Bridge will fulfill Linn County’s goal of connecting its southwest and northwest sides of town, offering walkers, runners, and cyclists a new way to travel.

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