Spokane's Iron Bridge has a rich history and immense potential as a vital bicycle and pedestrian link.
Years: 2008 to present
Iron Bridge, LLC
City of Spokane; Spokane County; University District; DCI Engineers; Friends of the Spokane Centennial Trail; Logan Neighborhood Council
Identify and apply to funding sources for the restoration of the bridge; facilitate agreement between city and adjacent developer to renovate the bridge.
On the eastern side of Spokane, Wash., a striking iron railroad bridge spans the Spokane River. Built in 1911 by the Oregon & Washington Railroad and Navigation Company, the bridge serviced mining areas in the Coeur d'Alene district of Idaho and the northern Bitterroot Mountains of Montana. The line closed in 1973 to make way for the 1974 Spokane World's Fair. Today, a growing collection of local community members, business owners and advocates are working with Rails-to-Trails Conservancy (RTC) to re-open this historical railroading relic—except this time for pedestrians and bicyclists instead of trains.
RTC is working with the city of Spokane, neighborhood groups and local businesses to implement a renovation strategy for the Iron Bridge. This plan includes identifying potential funding sources to renovate the bridge, ensuring that the bridge's structural soundness is adequately assessed, and developing a long-term maintenance strategy. In June 2008, RTC applied to the Washington State Wildlife and Recreation Program for funding of the bridge's renovation.
While renovating the bridge alone represents a unique opportunity to re-use and re-invent a piece of Spokane's past, the bridge would also link directly with the popular Spokane River Centennial Trail, a 37-mile rail-trail with more than 1.5 million users a year. Residents on both sides of the river would then have direct, non-motorized access to the Centennial Trail, whose eastern trailhead begins all the way at the Idaho border. The bridge would likewise be a key connector in Spokane's regional trails system, providing a link to the Ben Burr Rail-Trail and a number of other proposed pathways.