Plans to build a shared use path in Pioneer Park are going forward this year, and a new bridge is under construction to accommodate both bikes and pedestrians.
The heavy lifting on the bridge is being handled entirely by shop superintendent Jim Olstad, who has worked for the Valley City Park District for 35 years.
The bridge is a side project that Olstad works on periodically in the Park District maintenance shop at City Park.
“It’s just me, but I have tools to help,” Olstad said of the large amount of metal going into the bridge. “I move it all by myself.”
Once completed, the bridge will weigh about 8,000 pounds, and measure 11 feet wide by 24 feet long, and sit just south of the current green and white arched bridge, which will be removed. The entire span will be made from steel, with recycled steel for the decking material.
Olstad’s previous bridge work can also be seen at Bjornson Golf Course, as he built the main entrance’s cart and walking bridge several years ago.
“The one out at the golf course weighed 40,000 pounds and was a lot longer than this one,” he said. “This one’s smaller and lighter, and moving it is not as hard as it sounds.”
The sturdy span meets the specifications for being a bike bridge, with a larger surface and taller railings, and ultra-durable construction.
“It’ll last past me--I don’t see it ever wearing out,” Olstad said. “It’s built for 10,000 pounds even though it’s just a walking bridge.”
“Hopefully it will handle any biker that goes across,” Parks and Recreation Director Tyler Jacobson joked.
Olstad said he was hoping for a galvanized exterior to finish the bridge, “But it might be pretty spendy, so I’ve got a feeling we’ll be painting it down here in the shop.”
The bridge figures to be a centerpiece in the shared use path being built this year that will loop throughout the park.
The trail is funded in large part by a Recreational Trail Program grant of $108,560.
“That section of trail in Pioneer Park is scheduled to be completed this fall,” Jacobson said. “That’s what we’ve asked, but there’s a lot of delays that could happen, but we want to get it done this year. The recreational trail is just asphalt, so I requested it to be done as soon as possible.”
The park board has requested completion of the shared use path along with phase one of the Ninth Avenue Northwest reconstruction project, according to engineer Chad Petersen of Kadrmas, Lee and Jackson.
A delay in passage of a Federal Highway bill was threatening to postpone the project, but it now appears funding will be in place for a June bid opening.
“My guess is construction won’t start until closer to the fall, by the time they get all the paperwork done from the bid opening in June,” Jacobson said.
Other big dreams for the park lay on the horizon.
“As of right now, there’s a group working to restore the amphitheater and construct a parking lot,” said Jacobson.
“There’s a lot of phases going on in Pioneer Park, but right now the path is by far my number one project to get done.”
Jacobson mentioned the possibility of adding exercise equipment, a small splash pad water park and an arboretum to the park in the future.
“When those other phases will get done, I don’t know, but we’re trying to make it more of a destination park with more activities. the last two or three years it would’ve been nice to have all the other amenities.”