Walkers, joggers and bicyclists traveling over a refurbished bridge south of the 25th Street will notice its fresh look and enjoy the pathway for the convenience it helps provide with exercise activities.
What they won’t notice, but should understand and appreciate, was the amount of effort and persistence required in making the project a reality.
The newly refurbished former Newbern Bridge is now open as a part of the Columbus People Trail system over Haw Creek. Getting to that point was a long, difficult process.
In 1999, the Bartholomew County commissioners voted to close the one-lane, iron-truss bridge along County Road 850E because of its deteriorating condition. Eventually they decided it should become part of the Columbus People Trail system.
Along the way they experienced a range of delays and obstacles, such as:
- Having to excavate the area in 2001 when archaeologists uncovered more than 350 artifacts
- Extensive paperwork on the bridge’s historic status
- Redesign work and soil tests required to keep federal grants
- Going to court to determine ownership of five parcels of land
- Lobbying to have a state grant restored
Those challenges could have been enough for local officials at many points over nearly two decades to throw in the towel and say the bridge project was no longer worth the time and effort. But they didn’t.
Now, the bridge will provide bicyclists and pedestrians safe passage across the river without having to deal with traffic on busy 25th Street or National Road.
It’s due to the persistence of local officials.