This bridge is a good example of a concrete arch bridge. It was singled out by the Historic American Engineering Record as a particularly outstanding example of its type in Iowa. The bridge appears to retain good historic integrity.
Information and Findings From Iowa's Historic Bridge Inventory
Discussion of Bridge
Located on State Highway 150, the major approach road into Independence, the county seat, this multiple-span concrete bridge crosses the Wapsipinicon River. In early 1926, Mr. Hoffman, a state highway commission engineer, presented three options to the Buchanan County Supervisors for a bridge replacement on "primary road 11" on the south edge of Independence. Configuration options included a three-span high truss bridge, a four-span pony truss, or a four-span concrete arch bridge. The latter was recommended by the highway commission as being "the most economical considering the cost of maintenance." It was also, at an estimated cost of $49,269, the least expensive of the three. As Mr. Hoffman observed: "The sand is right there on the job." In addition, Independence already boasted one concrete-arch bridge, dating from 1918, that carried Main Street over the Wapsipinicon. The board voted unanimously in favor of the concrete-arch span. The Independence Bulletin-Journal reported: "The announcement that the new structure will be of concrete comes as a happy surprise to many, as it had been understood that it would be of steel and the high truss type." The paper also noted that the new bridge was to be located west of the existing structure, which would probably be relocated elsewhere in the county.
On June 29, 1926, the board voted to let a construction contract. The completed plans and specifications arrived from the state highway commission early in July. Although the design had originally called for a roadway of 24 feet with a 5-foot sidewalk, the sidewalk was apparently eliminated from the plans at some point, allowing the roadway to cover the entire deck. On July 21st, the board opened bids from eleven companies and awarded the contract to the Miller-Taylor Construction Company of Waterloo, Iowa, which had bid $37,680, plus extras. The firm's credentials included construction of a bridge in Manchester, as well as the San Souci Bridge in Waterloo. The Independence project, however, was not without its problems. In September the same year, high water washed away several coffer dams and buried two engines, causing work delays and forcing the cost of construction up. Miller-Taylor was forced to request an extension on the project, receiving a new completion date for January 1927. The bridge was successfully finished later that year at a total cost of $57,530. Since its completion, the Wapsipinicon River Bridge has continued to carry heavy urban traffic while maintaining a high degree of structural and historical integrity [adapted from Hybben, Roise, and Fraser 1992].
Bridge Considered Historic By Survey: Yes
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