Iowa Falls Bridge
long-span concrete structure spans the Iowa River in Iowa Falls. Carrying
U.S. Highway 65 (Oak Street) in this mildly urban setting, this open spandrel
arch features two massive ribs, upon which bear a series of paneled concrete
columns. The Iowa State Highway Commission described the bridge as the "longest
arch span either concrete or steel in the state of Iowa." The 255-foot long
Iowa Falls Bridge, dating to 1928, was built by the Welden Brothers Construction
Company at a total cost of $51,374.98. The construction contract was awarded
to the Iowa Falls firm on July 9,1927, by the Iowa Department of Transportation.
The state highway commission 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 sixty-five years with minimal alterations.
"Iowa Falls residents are fortunate in having the most beautiful and most picturesque section of the Iowa River through the heart of the town," the state highway commission 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 [CLAT15], 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 [ADAI01] 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 bridge is located at the river crossing of Hwy 65 (south of Oak Street) and the Iowa River and is still in use today.