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ConnectCR Project Reaches Milestone as Removal of Old Railroad Bridge Begins

ConnectCR Project Reaches Milestone as Removal of Old Railroad Bridge Begins

November 20, 2023

This week, crews will advance and mobilize equipment for the removal of the former CRANDIC/Rock Island Railroad Bridge over the Cedar River. The Flood of 2008 partially wiped the bridge away. Now, ConnectCR project partners will begin work to fully remove existing structural elements from the Cedar River, making way for the new Alliant Energy LightLine.

Demolition work will address the bridge and piers, with completion anticipated in Spring 2024. Construction of the new pedestrian and bicycle bridge, connecting New Bohemia to the base of Mount Trashmore near the Czech Village, is scheduled to begin in late 2024.

“This project is a perfect example of how public-private partnerships can enhance Cedar Rapids’ sense of place and improve quality of life for residents and visitors,” said Mayor Tiffany O’Donnell. “Our community is excited for this new link between historic neighborhoods, which will highlight the Cedar River and promote our emerging bicycle and recreation culture.”

Elements of the project include recycling pieces of the existing bridge to construct historical signage nearby. These pieces will incorporate significant stories of the bridge’s history and the workforce that once traveled this path each day.

“The process of recycling and repurposing bridge components will be an important, visible symbol of the years of work that brought us to this point,” said City Manager Jeff Pomeranz. “It will reflect our commitment to sustainable practices and keeping our history alive, showcasing how we handle challenges and work together to build a stronger future.”

“This is a major milestone moment for ConnectCR,” said Steve Sovern, ConnectCR Board Treasurer, and early promoter of the bridge idea. “As much as we admired the old bridge I used to refer to as a “sleeping giant” in the river, and as much as I love its rich history, we’re excited to move this project forward and get another step closer to having a pedestrian bridge that connects the two sides of our city.”


History & Significance of the CRANDIC/Rock Island Railroad Bridge and Alliant Energy LightLine

The CRANDIC/Rock Island Railroad Bridge was constructed around 1865. While it was built as a crossing for trains over the Cedar River, a walkway was included on its south side. Local workers — many of them Czech immigrants — used the walkway to cross the river, traveling from their homes in the Czech Village area to the nearby Sinclair packing plant, which stood for years on the river’s east side.

The Alliant Energy LightLine will become a signature element of the Cedar Valley Nature Trail, part of two cross-country trail networks: the Great American Rail-Trail and the American Discovery Trail.

More on the bridge’s rich history can be found here.

More information on the new Alliant Energy LightLine Bridge and renderings can be found here.

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