Bismarck-Mandan railroad bridge approaches end of the line structurally

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BISMARCK, N.D. - The railroad bridge that connects Bismarck and Mandan is approaching the end of the line.

There's been a lot of debate over what's going to happen to the iconic structure.

BNSF says they're responsible for owning, maintaining and replacing the bridge when it's use is up, and Amy McBeth says it's almost time.

The 1880 bridge connecting Bismarck and Mandan is a historical icon, but BNSF says it's outdated.

"The plan would be to construct a new structure and then remove the existing one. Again, that's to minimize the impact of the water flow there," said McBeth, BNSF.

In March, a local resident started a petition to preserve the overpass and use it as a community pathway.

"As someone that likes to run, walk and bicycle, that would be an awesome asset, but it would be very challenging," said Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary.

"I think that would be a hard thing. I'd love to see the main structure of the bridge stay, whether they make it in-accessible from either end," said Mandan Mayor Tim Helbling.

BNSF says leaving the existing bridge in place could create issues with the river's water flow.

"Those will be discussions that we'll be having. Again, it's certainly part of that process, those conversations with stake holders and other agencies," said McBeth.

Seminary says both Bismarck and Mandan won't have a big voice in the decision to keep or destroy the bridge, because BNSF owns the structure and the Corp of Engineers controls the river.

Building a new railway bridge is a multi-year project.

BNSF says construction of the new structure will depend on the permitting process, but they're hoping to start next year.