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Current view of Iowa Falls Bridge
Courtesy of the Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission

This long-span concrete structure spans the Iowa River in Iowa Falls. Carrying U.S. Highway 65 (Oak Street) in a somewhat urban setting, this open spandrel arch features two massive ribs, upon which bear a series of paneled concrete columns. At its construction in 1928, the Iowa State Highway Commission (ISHC) described the bridge as the "longest arch span either concrete or steel in the state of Iowa." The Weldon Brothers Construction Company built the 255-foot long Iowa Falls Bridge at a total cost of $51,375. The Iowa Department of Transportation awarded the construction contract to the Iowa Falls firm on July 9, 1927. The ISHC used this banner headline to depict the concrete landmark: "Nature Gives Scenic Beauty Touch to New Jefferson Highway Bridge at Iowa Falls." Since its completion, the Iowa Falls Bridge has carried a steady stream of urban traffic for 65 years with minimal alterations.

Historic view of the Iowa Falls Bridge
Courtesy of the Iowa Falls Historic Preservation Commission

"Iowa Falls residents are fortunate in having the most beautiful and most picturesque section of the Iowa River thru the heart of the town," the ISHC stated in 1927. Although highway commission engineers typically used riveted steel trusses for medium-span river crossings in rural settings, they used concrete open spandrel arches for a number of urban and small town structures in the 1920s. The Mederville Bridge, built in 1918, was apparently the first of these, designed as an alternate to a steel truss bridge. This was followed by the Adair Viaduct in 1923 and the Iowa Falls Bridge in 1928. By using open spandrel arches, ISHC could achieve a relatively long span at a reasonable cost, while contributing aesthetically to the urban settings in which the bridges stood. But given the restrictive parameters of the arches' use--urban setting, long-span crossing, sufficient vertical clearance--only a few were built during this period. The Iowa Falls Bridge is distinguished as a well-preserved example of this application of urban bridge design. A centerpiece for this small city, it is a local landmark and an important transportation-related resource.

The Iowa Falls Bridge is still in use today at the crossing of Hwy. 65 South (Oak St.) over the Iowa River .

[graphic] Collage of different scenes from Hardin County
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