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-Messenger file photo

The steel truss arch bridge over the Des Moines River in Fort Dodge is due for replacement in 2023. The bridge carries two lanes of Kenyon Road’s westbound traffic.

Individuals who live and work in Fort Dodge will have an opportunity next week to learn about how a planned replacement of part of the Kenyon Road Bridge might impact their daily travels.

The Iowa Department of Transportation has been looking at replacing the bridges that carry the southwest-bound traffic over the Des Moines River and the CN Railroad since around 2018, according to Allison Smyth, assistant district engineer, Iowa DOT District 1.

A public information meeting will be held from 5 to 6:30 pm on Tuesday at the Fort Dodge Public Library, 424 Central Ave. Iowa DOT staff will be present to discuss the proposed improvements, though no formal presentation will be made. A previous public information meeting was held in February of 2020.

There are actually two bridges on the southwest-bound side of Kenyon Road — one crossing over the Des Moines River and Avenue B and one crossing over the CN Railroad near Pleasant Valley. Both of these bridges are nearly 90 years old, being built in 1935 and 1936. The other two bridges, which carry the northeast-bound traffic, were built later, Smyth said.

“These are old enough now that it’s time to do a repair or replacement,” Smith explained. “After really looking at the bridges and their age, they’ve decided that replacement was the most appropriate response for these bridges.”

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Toony Gustafson, assistant district engineer for the Iowa Department of Transportation’s District 1 in Ames, looks over large prints showing the proposed detour and traffic routing plans for the Kenyon Road Bridge replacement project during a public information meeting Tuesday at the Fort Dodge Public Library. The Iowa DOT is seeking public imputation on the traffic routing. The bridge project is expected to start in 2023.

There isn’t any kind of emergency behind the project to replace the two bridges, they’ve just reached the end of their lifespan, Smyth said.

Each bridge replacement is a separate project. The bridge that crosses over the railroad near Pleasant Valley is a bit longer and is expected to cost about $9.1 million. The bridge over the river is shorter and is expected to cost $5.8 million.

“These bridges are going to have a 10-foot-wide recreational trail on them, and that is going to be an improvement over what’s out there,” Smyth said. “It’s a lot narrower now, so I think people will like to hear we are accommodating pedestrians and bicycles.”

Construction is expected to begin in the fall of 2023 and be complete around the fall of 2024.

During construction, traffic will still be able to cross along Kenyon Road — the east side of the Kenyon Road, which currently carries the northeast-bound traffic, will be converted into single-lanes of traffic going in each direction, Smyth said.

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The collection of spans known as the Kenyon Road Bridge is actually composed of four different types of bridges.

The completed bridges will be 30 feet wide, including the 10-foot-wide recreational trail. The existing bridges are steel frame bridges, and the new bridges will be a pre-tensioned prestressed concrete beam bridge design.

A virtual presentation with a self-guided tour of the proposed improvements will be available on the Iowa DOT website from Tuesday through Aug. 29. That information can be found at www.iowadot.gov/pim and click on “US 20 / US 169 Bridge Improvements.” Citizens can also submit comments and questions online until Aug. 29.

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A large limb rests against the westbound section of the Kenyoh Road Bridge.

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After the collapse of the I-35 bridge in Minneapolis the Iowa DOT stepped up inspection and maintenance on a similar bridge that carries Kenyon Road’s westbound traffic across the Des Moines River in Fort Dodge.

-Messenger file photo

A bird rests on the framing of the westbound section of the Kenyon Road Bridge where it crosses the railroad tracks on the Pleasant Valley Side of the Des Moines River. This span is due for replacement in 2023.

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