Return to Louden Bridge


Louden Bridge History

Feb 17, 2004...After negotiations between the City of Fairfield, the BNSF Railroad, and the Iowa DOT, a bid letting was held for a new bridge over the BNSF tracks.  Godbersen-Smith Construction Co. submitted the winning bid.  A TEA-21 grant and a REAP grant will help to pay for the bridge.  Godbersen-Smith Construction Co. also built the Cedar View Bridge for us in 2002.

April 19, 2004...Construction began.  Weather will determine the construction progress.  See Louden Bridge photos for construction photos.

New Bridge for the Loop Trail

The Jefferson County Trail Council (JCTC) and the City of Fairfield have been notified by the IDOT that the construction company of Godberson-Smith was the low bidder on the new bridge that is to be built over the BNSF Railroad just east of Chautauqua Park.  This is the same company that built the Cedar View Trail Bridge over Cedar Creek a few years ago.

Plans call for a 246-foot pedestrian bridge to be built over the railroad.  This will be a very important "link" in the Loop Trail.  It will tie in Chautauqua Park to the Walton Lake section of the trail system.

This bridge will be more than just a concrete structure, however.  The JCTC received a grant from the National Endowments of the Arts for "artistic" enhancements to the bridge.

Local sculptor Judy Bales has designed the bridge enclosure (the railroad requires that the bridge be fully enclosed with steel framed mesh material) to take on the look of railroad trestles and barn structures.  Inspired by Louden Barn Designs, Ms. Bales has worked closely with Fairfield High School art teacher Mark Shafer and his students on this project.

The art class decided to make 171 ceramic plaques with images from old Louden Machinery Company blueprints.  The Louden Machinery Company was a major influence on Fairfield and on farming from about 1870 to 1940, and on industrial material handling equipment from about 1920 to the present.

The contractor will begin work on the bridge on April 19.      (Submitted by Ron Meyers)

Oct 2, 2004...The Louden Bridge was dedicated today.
See some Grand Opening photos.
See the Grand Opening Invitation (Requires Acrobat Reader).
See the Design Team (Requires Acrobat Reader).

Aug 26, 2005...A story about our Louden Bridge appeared on  the American Trails website.


History of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad in Fairfield

The first railroad arrived in Fairfield in 1858. The Burlington and Missouri River Railroad was absorbed by the Chicago, Burlington & Quincy Railroad about 1872.

In 1901 the tracks were dualized and straightened. Eventually it became part of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad, known as the BNSF.

The Jefferson County Conservation Board and the Jefferson County Trails Council recently turned parts of the original sections of the C, B and Q roadbed into recreational trails

The "back side" of the driveway around Chautauqua Park is on this old roadbed. About 0.3 miles long, you can see more remnants of the old roadbed when you look east from the bottom of the drive.
A trail bridge, part of the Loop Trail, was recently built across the creek where the railroad once crossed.

Whitham Woods has a 0.25-mile section running through it from east to southwest. Recently cleared, you can view the original railroad bridge abutments.
From Highway 34 you can see remnants of the old roadbed just before you cross over Mitchell Creek (look east of the creek).

Construction Photos - Louden Bridge

Welcome to the Louden Bridge Construction Photo Essay (scroll down)

JCTC kept a photo record of the Louden Bridge construction, enabling you to "virtually visit" the bridge construction site (last updated 09-28-04).

The Jefferson County Trails Council looked for a way to cross the BNSF railroad tracks in order to complete the east side of the Fairfield Loop Trail.

The railroad suggested building a bridge at the point where the tracks run through a "cut", thereby making the approach to the bridge very gentle.  A grant was obtained and construction started on April 19, 2004.

Here is a photo history of the Louden Bridge construction.

Louden Bridge site, in Feb 2004.
Bridge site

Look out! Here we come!  April 19, 2004.
Photo 01

Are they dancing? U.S. Cellular tower in the background. Looking north.
Photo 02

Job site viewed from the north.
Photo 03

Don't cross yet-no bridge.  Toot! Toot!
Photo 04

H-Piles, the anchors for the bridge abutments, viewed from the north.
South H-Piles are visible in the background.
Photo 05

H-Piles, newly driven, close up.
Photo 01

Forms are ready for the south bridge abutment concrete pour.
Photo 07

Note the top of the H-Pile in the foreground, under the rebar.
Photo 08

South abutment with concrete poured.
Photo 09

Forms have been removed from the south abutment.
Photo 10

The north H-Piles are trimmed, ready for the north bridge abutment forms to be built.
Photo 11

Rebar ready for a bridge pier - outside view.
Photo 12

Rebar ready for a bridge pier - inside view.
Photo 13

The rebar assembly for the south bridge pier being hoisted into place.
Photo 14

Bringing it to the hole.
Photo 15

Lowering into the hole.
Photo 16

Lowering it more, watching closely.
Photo 17

Lowering it more.
Photo 18

Still more to go.
Photo 19

Making adjustments.
Photo 20

Ready for the concrete to be poured.
Photo 21

The south pier is still growing. Concrete has been poured.
Photo 22

The forms have been removed.
Photo 23

For the north pier, concrete is poured into the form. One man goes down into the form to run a vibrator to make the concrete settle.
Photo 24

Jerry Bishop of French-Reneker Associates tests a sample of the concrete mix.
Photo 25

Filling the sample bucket.
Photo 26

Setting up the instruments.
Photo 27

Hoisting the funnel, which has a long sleeve on it to start. As the form is filled up, they swapped it out for a short sleeve.
Photo 28

Lowering the funnel into the forms.
Photo 29

Filling the bucket from the concrete delivery truck.
Photo 30

Hoisting the bucket to place it over the pier.
Photo 31

Positioning the bucket over the funnel.
Photo 32

A workman pulls a handle to release concrete into the funnel. It took several buckets of concrete to fill the pier form, over 9 cubic yards of concrete in all.
Photo 33

For the last couple of buckets, two men are up top. At this point, the funnel has been removed.
Photo 34

Climbing down after the pour is done.
Photo 35

The north abutment is under construction. Pouring the North abutment.
Photo 36

More preparation is needed. Can I drive?
Photo 37

It takes a lot of forms to build this bridge. A temporary road was built. Who's going to sign for this delivery?
Photo 38

Everybody is curious about the construction. Where are the worms?
Photo 39

The bridge beams will be supported by the pier caps, which are on top of the piers. Another set of beams will reach to the abutments at each end of the bridge. The railroad requires 25 ft clearance over the tracks. The pier caps are ready for the concrete pour.
Photo 40

After the pour, the forms were removed. Looking from the south.
Photo 41

The first beam is in place. Note the worker walking along the beam.
Photo 42

Work must stop while a train passes. Note workers at either end in a secure position against the beam.
Photo 43

Larger version. The Amtrak train is heading to Chicago.
Photo 43A

A truck arrives with the second beam.
Photo 44

Hooking the crane cables to the beam.
Photo 45

The beam is lifted off the truck. Notice that the truck is in two parts.
Photo 46

All in a day's work. One of the workers who will guide the beam into position waits nonchalantly.
Photo 47

Moving the beam. The trains can not pass under while beams are placed.
Photo 48

Rejoining the truck. While the beam is being maneuvered into position, workers join the two parts of the truck.
Photo 49

Hoisting the beam. The center span beams weigh about 36 tons each.
Photo 50

Almost there.
Photo 51

Just a little further.
Photo 52

Another inch my way. A worker measures the position of the beam and directs fine adjustments.
Photo 53

The beam settles into position on its neoprene bearing pad.
Photo 54

Unhooking the crane cables from the beam.
Photo 55

All done placing the center span beams.
Photo 56

From this angle, the curvature of the beams is apparent. The curvature provides the 25 foot clearance the railroad requires.
Photo 57

More beams have been placed. The beams for the north span have been set.
Photo 58

All beams in place.
Photo 59

All beams in place, train passing underneath. Empty coal cars going back for more.
Photo 60

Hard core bridge fans can click here for close-up detail photos. Viewer discretion is advised.

Superstructure: South Abutment. Getting ready for the decking. View showing the "wings".
Photo 62

View from the north.
Photo 63

View from below. Also shows the deck forms from below.
Photo 64

Inside View. Looking down into the forms where concrete will be poured around the end of the beam.
Photo 65

Superstructure: North Abutment. Excavating to make room for the wings.
Photo 66

Rebar, partially complete.
Photo 67

Forms for the north abutment.
Photo 68

Pouring the west wing.
Photo 69

Preparing the forms for the deck. Setting bracing for the deck forms.
Photo 70

Beginning to set deck forms, view from the top.
Photo 71

Detail of side bracing for the deck.
Photo 72

Forms over south pier.
Photo 73

Forms over south pier; View from Below. Also shows the deck forms from below.
Photo 74

Fine tuning the deck forms. Working together from above and from below.
Photo 75

View of the deck forms and rebar.
Photo 76

View of the deck forms and rebar emphasizing the rebar for the curb.Photo 77

The catwalk.
Photo 78

Testing the concrete mix for the deck. Too much air in the mix, and the concrete is weak. Too little air, and the concrete can't expand and contract without cracking.
Photo 79

Pouring the deck.
Photo 80

More pouring.
Photo 81

Spreading and finishing the concrete.
Photo 82

Advancing the screed. The surface of the concrete was leveled with a screed that rode on bars along the sides of the bridge. The screed was advanced with a winch at each end.
Photo 83

After the deck was poured, the deck curb forms were built and the concrete was poured. The forms for the deck curb being built.
Photo 84

Pouring the concrete into the deck curb forms.
Photo 85

Finishing the deck curbs.
Photo 86

Smoothing the freshly poured curb.
Photo 87

Removing the forms after the concrete has set up.
Photo 88

Riding the boom of the crane to remove the catwalk.
Photo 89

Close-up of the inset where the tiles will be placed on the curbs.
Photo 90

One of the block outs in the curbs, where decorative tiles created by Mark Shafer's students will be placed.
Photo 90a

The South Abutment forms are removed. South abutment and curbs with forms stripped off. Ron Blair gives us a perspective.
Photo 91

Another view of the South Abutment.
Photo 92

And another view of the South Abutment.
Photo 93

Grading around the South Abutment.
Photo 93a

The trail must be built up to meet the end of the bridge. The first load of dirt for the trail construction arrives.
Photo 94

This sheep's-foot roller compacts the dirt.
Photo 95

Compacting the south approach.
Photo 96

A close-up of the indentations left by the sheep's-foot roller.
Photo 97

Waiting for the forms for the concrete approach ramp to be built.
Photo 98

Grading of the approach to the south end of the bridge is complete.
Photo 99

The concrete south approach ramp has been poured.
Photo 100

View of the finished deck, from the south.
Photo 100a

View of Chautauqua Park from the south ramp.
Photo 100b

The north approach does not need a build-up. Rebar for the concrete north approach ramp.
Photo 101

The concrete north approach ramp has been poured.
Photo 102

View of the finished deck, from the north.
Photo 103

The railings and cage must be installed before the bridge can open. We're all eager to use the bridge, but we can't cross it until the fencing on the side of the bridge is in place.
Please don't cross the barriers.
Photo 104

The side panels of the frame for the enclosure has arrived. Pattern designed by artist Judy Bales.
Photo 105

Detail of the side panels.
Photo 106

07-13-04. Beginning to erect the frame of the enclosure, starting at the south.
The roof panels of the frame for the enclosure have arrived. It takes a pair of the pieces shown here to span the roof.
Photo 107

Detail of the roof panels.
Photo 108

The first section of the frame for the enclosure has been erected. South end of the bridge.
Photo 109

Another view of the first section.
Photo 110

Close-up of the first section. The frame will be covered with chain link mesh.
Photo 111

07-17-04. The pattern of the frame begins to take shape.
As more sections are added to the frame, the pattern becomes more apparent.
Photo 112

Another view. (From the south end).
Photo 113

07-21-04. Continuing to assemble the frame.
A section of the roof, assembled and ready to be put into place. The car provides scale.
Photo 114

Erecting a section of frame on the north end of the bridge.
Photo 115

Erecting the frame, looking south.
Photo 116

Erecting the frame while a train passes under the bridge. Looking south.
Photo 117

07-24-04. Views of the frame, now complete, waiting for the chain link.
Note Amtrak's California Zephyr heading for San Francisco.
Photo 118

This and the next 2 photos of the frame show how the pattern works, which represents the structure of an old barn. Some chain link has been placed on the top of the frame, but hasn't been stretched and fastened yet.
Photo 119

View # 2 of the frame showing how the pattern works.
Photo 120

View # 3 of the frame showing how the pattern works.
Photo 121

Sept 19...Judith Bales, who designed the bridge covering, and an advisor, Bob Saturley, are mounting the first of 171 tiles on the Louden Bridge side-wall. (Started Sept 9, completed Sept 19, 2004).

Mark Shafer's art class at Fairfield High School designed and glazed the tiles.

Photo 122

Three tiles will be mounted in each inset.
Photo 123

The ceramic plaques feature images from old Louden Machinery Company blueprints. Louden was a major influence on Fairfield, and on farming from about 1870 to 1940, and on industrial material handling equipment from about 1920 to the present.
Photo 124

Waiting for the adhesive to dry.
Photo 125

The second set of plaques.
Photo 126

Get it just right.
Photo 127

The second set of plaques wait.
Photo 128

Another plaque. Photo by Judy Bales.
Photo 128a

Side view of the Louden Bridge, looking towards the south.
Photo 129

Photo by Judy Bales.
Photo 129a

Looking north, the sun creating shadows.
Photo 130

Looking south, the sun creating shadows.
Photo 131

Looking south, the sun creating shadows.
Photo 132

Looking south. Photo by Judy Bales.
Photo 132a

In the Winter, looking North. Photo by Judy Bales.
Photo 132b

Thank you for viewing the BNSF Bridge Photo Essay.
Photo 199

Details of the Louden Bridge construction

Close-up of loops on the end of beams where the crane cables are hooked on to hoist the beam.
Bridge photo

A view between the beams showing the steel "diaphragms" that stabilize the beams.
Bridge photos

Close-up showing the neoprene bearing pads where the beams rest on the pier caps.
Bridge photos

Close-up showing the steel "I" beam where the bridge beam rests on the north abutment.
Bridge photos

Page updated 09/08/11, 02-28-14, reformatted , 03-21-18 Back to top

Back to top