Veterans Bridge in Fort Dodge to close temporarily next month

Veterans Bridge on First Avenue South, a key link between central Fort Dodge and the city’s east side, will be closed for up to four weeks next month.

However, the bridge is not about to undergo major repairs. Instead, it will be closed because First Avenue South on its east side will be torn up so that a massive new storm sewer can be installed.

“If you went over the bridge, you couldn’t get through the intersection, so we have to close the bridge,” said Tony Trotter, a project engineer in the city’s Engineering, Business Affairs and Community Growth Department.

He said the bridge will close on Sept. 2.

It had been expected to close on Monday, but the work was postponed by one week.

Trotter said the contractor, Rasch Construction Inc., of Fort Dodge, will have four weeks to complete the work by the bridge.

The bridge, which spans Union Pacific Railroad tracks, is frequently used by fire trucks and ambulances responding to emergencies on the city’s east side. Fire Chief Kent Hulett said firefighters are studying different ways to reach the area.

”We’re going to look at alternate routes because that’s a major route to the east side of the railroad tracks,” he said. ”Especially what concerns me is if rail traffic stops our response.”

The railroad grade crossings closest to the bridge are at Fifth Avenue South and Second Avenue North. Long trains passing through the city can block both crossings at the same time.

The work that will close the bridge is part of the East Region Storm Sewer Project intended to improve drainage in the area around Crossroads Mall that’s notorious for flooding during rain storms. The first phase of that project included the creation of a storm water retention pond on the north side of Veterans Bridge.

Trotter said the upcoming phase of the project includes installing a 60-inch diameter storm sewer near 23rd Street and First Avenue South. That sewer, which will taper down to 54 inches in diameter, will extend to a point about midway between 23rd and 25th streets, he said.

Rasch Construction Inc. has a $621,804 contract for the project.