Rail bridge group receives government support

Published: Mar. 16, 2021 at 5:10 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Burlington Northern Santa Fe owns the rail bridge between Bismarck and Mandan and is set to construct a new river crossing. Still, the quest to maintain the old bridge continues.

Tuesday in a plea to preserve this piece of North Dakota history, the Friends of the Rail Bridge asked Burleigh County Commission to partner with them so that they could gain access to the North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund.

This request came at the final hour after the Friends of the Rail Bridge asked for a Public-Private Partnership with the City of Bismarck, the City of Mandan, and Morton County.

“It went to them and it went to the city of Bismarck, and they ultimately decided as a no to three different asks there,” said Mandy Peterson, secretary of the Friends of the Rail Bridge.

Burleigh commissioners were concerned about liability, cost, and supporting the request when the other municipalities passed.

“I love the idea of another recreation place and not demolishing something, I mean how many people have senior pictures or family pictures in front of that bridge or having that there,” said Commissioner Becky Matthews. “I am very supportive of it, but as a county commissioner, I am wanting to make sure all of our municipalities are on the same page.”

Other commissioners supported the request because they supported eventually converting the old bridge to a pedestrian walkway.

“I have seen a number of the Rails to Trails in other areas, and ultimately they are a good thing for the community,” said Commissioner Brian Bitner.

Commissioners also argued in favor of the partnership because other entities would be forced to eventually support the project for it to get off the ground.

Burleigh county commissioners voted 3 to 2 to partner with the Friends of the Rail Bridge in their request to preserve this bridge.

The US Coast Guard has the final say in the status of the rail bridge.

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