FULTON – Union Pacific Railroad is one step closer to building a new railroad bridge across the Mississippi River near Fulton, after picking up nearly a half-million dollars in property in Garden Plain Township.
The new span would replace an aging bridge that’s been deemed a "persistent hazard to navigation."
The railroad paid $415,000 to Christina and Donald E. Westcott Jr. on March 22 for 18.72 acres at 4480 Ward Road in Fulton. The company also paid $18,000 on March 23 to Rodney, Lisa, Scott, Deeanna, Stephen, and Alma Whitmore for 1.89 acres at Ward and Waller roads.
Kristen South, director of media relations at the railroad's Omaha, Nebraska, office, confirmed that the purchases are part of a plan to replace the existing bridge over the Mississippi River.
The current bridge, built between 1908 and 1909, is a swing-span bridge that swings out to allow river traffic to pass through, but forces train traffic to stop. The new bridge would be a 3-mile long elevated clear-span bridge that would allow both train and river traffic to move freely at the same time. The new bridge would be the same height as the nearby U.S. Route 30 highway bridge.
The Iowa Department of Transportation described the existing bridge in a 2009 report as a "persistent hazard to navigation" that causes a “significant loss” of America’s economic competitiveness due to delays it creates,” as well as the limits it places on train and barge traffic.
South said there’s no target date yet for construction, but she did say the design and permitting stage alone could take 2 to 3 years. She didn't provide a projected cost either. The new bridge would be funded by a combination of private and public funds provided under the TrumanHobbs Act.