Community members want bridge to stay in the community

BISMARCK, N.D. - Changes could be coming to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway bridge, but before any final decisions are made, the public had a chance to have their voices heard.

The bridge was built in 1880, and BNSF officials say it's time for a change to the outdated structure. But for many, it's a part of the identity of the community.

“It's iconic, it's beautiful, its what’s in all your family pictures. It’s what you post on Instagram, it’s what you snap to your friends in all the other places to say that your city is cool,” said Mandy Persson, Bismarck native.

BNSF came up with three options for the future, and they say the best one is to build a new bridge and tear down the current one. The other two both include keeping the old bridge in place. The Coast Guard is the lead federal agency and will consider the alternatives as well as the input they get from the public.

“The Coast Guard and the federal government in general does care what the people think. We understand that this is a part of local heritage,” said Rob McCaskey, bridge management specialist of the U.S. Coast Guard.

Nearly 20 people spoke at the meeting Thursday night and all gave different reasons for wanting to keep the bridge.

“Everyone in the community could tell you a different thing. And it makes a stronger thing and it makes a stronger argument I think for so many different purposes all coming together to save it,” said Persson.

McCaskey said it could take months before any final decision is made.