Further discussion was held on the Ely’s Stone Bridge at the latest Jones County Board of Supervisors meeting June 15.
Keith Stamp, Monticello, wanted to know what the county was planning to do with the bridge, including what the timeline was and whether the county had a policy that it considered when determining whether or not to close a structure.
Concerning a policy, there is nothing set in stone, though bridges are inspected at least once every 24 months according to Jones County Engineer Derek Snead, with the less sufficient bridges checked once every 12 months or so. If they get to a critical point, bridges can be closed immediately.
Snead said ongoing issues with the bridge have reduced its structural capacity. Plans have previously been presented to rehabilitate the bridge while keeping its historical aspect, but Snead said the grant the Jones County Historic Preservation Commission had applied for had been unsuccessful, but that could be reapplied for in a future cycle.
The Ely Stone Bridge has been closed to traffic since April of 2017 when it was sold to the Historic Preservation Commission to begin the fundraising for the restoration.
Steve Jacobson of NNW Engineering presented a plan in August of 2019 at a community meeting which called for the roadway to be expanded to 24 feet on top of the existing bridge and having it extend three feet outside the existing bridge on either side.
At the time, the estimated cost was around $600,000. The latest cost estimate, according to Historic Preservation Commission President Rose Rohr last June, was $571,496. However, more damage was done over the winter and was more structural than the previous damage, with separation in the arches.
Snead said a stone bridge near Elkader recently went out for bid, but only one bid came in, and it was rejected for extreme cost.
“With uniqueness comes extreme prices,” Snead said.
Stamp said he wanted to make it so the bridge could at least be opened for ATV or foot traffic. Snead said he thought the bridge might be able to handle light traffic but did not know what the bridge would be rated at. The lowest a bridge could be rated for is three tons. Action to load/stress test the bridge was put on the agenda for June 22.