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The historic Fifth Street Bridge across the Raccoon River in downtown Des Moines is set to reopen at 8 am Friday, November 11. The steel bridge, listed on the National Historic Register of Places, will open to pedestrians and bike riders after a successful rehabilitation fueled by $2.3 million in private and public funds.

The bridge, designed in 1896 as a wagon bridge, provided a key link to southside neighborhoods with downtown Des Moines. Construction was delayed until 1898 until the Iowa Supreme Court ruled on the contested contract award.

The bridge is part of the Meredith Trail and restores a direct trail connection for several new housing developments on the north and south banks of Raccoon River.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, the bridge survived several plans to tear down the structure, including a 2013 recommendation by the Des Moines city manager's office to remove it. It was closed in March 2013 due to safety concerns.

Fund-raising for the project wrapped up in October 2015 at Confluence Brewing with a celebration and release of the brewery's Bridge Builder Pale Ale. Favorable spring weather allowed Cramer & Associates, a bridge contractor, to get an early start on rebuilding. The bridge was completed ahead of schedule and under budget--just 13 months after getting the green light to proceed with rebuilding. The project included the addition of several redundant safety features.

A formal dedication is expected in the spring when donor plazas are added along with a new ADA-compliant access on the north bank.

Earlier this year, the Des Moines City Council voted to retain the original Fifth Street name for the bridge, as it was known for 90-plus years. Locals also call it the green bridge.

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