UPDATE: The Bertram Road Bridge was officially re-opened to traffic on October 9, 2023.
Bertram Road Bridge Construction and Relocation
The Bertram Road Bridge, also known as the “Blue Bridge,” is being replaced by Linn County to allow two-way traffic across the bridge. The county will be permanently closing the old bridge as work advances on the new bridge. The bridge is expected to be closed from March 13 until October or November when the new bridge is completed.
Plans to bring the old bridge to the Indian Creek Nature Center’s trail system saw a setback on Monday, April 3. The aging bridge suffered damage while it was being prepared for relocation. Indian Creek Nature Center is communicating with Linn County about potential next steps, but plans for relocation have been put on hold. You can read more about the incident at this update from Linn County. Meanwhile, Indian Creek Nature Center will continue seeking out ways to improve our trail system.
Accessing ICNC During Bridge Closure
Temporary Trail Closures
Before the bridge suffered structural damage while crews attempted to relocate it, work had already begun on Indian Creek Nature Center’s trail system to create a new home for the bridge. The plan was to place the bridge over a ravine to connect the northeast corner of the Stimple Prairie and the northwest corner of the Cedar Rapids Prairie.
In preparation for relocating the “Blue Bridge” to its new home, abutments were being created for the bridge to rest upon. This work meant the removal of some trees and prairie grasses, which will be restored once all construction work is completed. This work also required construction crews bringing large equipment, materials and trucks through our prairie trails.
To ensure the safety of our trail users, these areas will be closed as necessary until all work in the area is finished. Please adhere to any trail closures and take this opportunity to explore the other trails surrounding Amazing Space.
History of Bertram Road Bridge
The Bertram bridge was built in 1876 by the Wrought Iron Bridge Company (WIBCo) using a design patented in 1876 and was presumably one of the first bridges to use the new design. WIBCo’s patented design was a variation of a standard Pratt truss configuration, employing double-intersecting counter members radiating outward from the center of the span. This early wrought-iron truss features four timber stringer spans at its north approach and is supported by a combination of stone and timber abutments. With no alterations on record, this bridge continued to serve vehicle traffic until 2022 at 146 years old.
This bridge has survived many floods, most notably in 1993 and 2008. Thankfully, the high water was mostly backwater from the Cedar River, which did not carry a damaging current. Multiple repairs have been made to the bridge over the years. Per inspection records, the timber deck surface was replaced in 1926, 1940, 1954, 1987, and 1996 and the timber approach spans were completely reconstructed in 1987. To protect the integrity of the steel, the truss was painted several times, most notably in 1991 when it received a royal blue treatment earning it the “Blue Bridge” nickname.