With Missouri groups already gearing up for the state's 200th anniversary, an ad hoc committee hopes to add to that celebration by opening the bicentennial bridge to Adrian's Island by 2021.
Members of the ad hoc committee fundraising for the proposed 826-foot bridge presented to the Jefferson City Parks and Recreation Commission on Tuesday to provide an update on the project. Jefferson City hopes to construct a bridge leading down to Adrian's Island and create a riverfront park on the island.
Adrian's Island contains 30 acres of forest and wetlands that lie between the Missouri River and Union Pacific Railroad tracks that stretches about 1 mile, from the Missouri State Capitol to the former Missouri State Penitentiary.
The ad hoc committee believes the ceremony celebrating Missouri's 200th anniversary would be the best opportunity to debut the bridge, said Bob Gilbert, project managing engineer with Bartlett & West.
"We realized that's a special moment for the state and it helps us with the ability to fundraise," he said. "It also gives us a deadline to get the project out and done and for people to enjoy it for the bicentennial."
The hope is to break ground at the site in 2019, Gilbert said, with the bridge taking about a year to construct.
The timeline depends heavily on whether the ad hoc committee can raise enough funds for the bridge. The committee believes this goal is attainable, said Gilbert; Jim Crabtree, ad hoc committee member; and Bill Plank, chairman of the Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce board of directors.
The committee hired a consultant to conduct a fundraising study to determine whether the project is feasible, and part of the study was surveying potential donors. Eighty-six percent of 40 potential donors surveyed rated the bicentennial bridge project as "excellent or good," Gilbert said.
The committee is putting together a list of donors and plans to reach out to them about donations in the coming months, Crabtree said.
"Now it's a matter of getting them to sign on the dotted line and say, 'Yes, this is how much we want to give,'" said Plank, who is also a Parks and Recreation commissioner.
Former Gov. Eric Greitens signed a bill earlier this summer that donated 0.19 acres between the Senate garage and Veterans Memorial to Jefferson City for construction of the bicentennial bridge.
The bridge would include overlooks for visitors to stop and look out at the views. The ad hoc committee also plans to incorporate four railcar replicas that would contain walking museums on the bridge.
"The destination of getting to Adrian's Island is going to be one user type but then you're going to have the other user type where people are experiencing the walk to the island," Crabtree said. "Whether they step foot on (the island) or not, they're going to have a meaningful experience."
The bridge would be ADA-accessible and allow emergency vehicles to drive on it, Gilbert said.
The park would contain passive recreation options, Gilbert said, but what exactly those options are have not been nailed down.
About 13 acres of the island would be above the flood elevation Bartlett & West used, Gilbert said, and those 13 acres are where the bridge and most of the park would be located. The island has flooded five times since 2000, he added.
"People believe every time it rains, this floods, and nothing could be further away from the truth," Gilbert said. "The truth is this doesn't flood that often. Our other parks flood more often than this."
If the Missouri River did flood, visitors would have advance notice, Gilbert added.
Potential flooding events actually could attract more people to the bridge, as the bridge would not flood, Crabtree said.
"The bridge isn't going to be underwater, and I believe the flooding is going to be part of the story," Crabtree said. "My prediction is the visitation to the bicentennial bridge is going to increase during times of flood events. The reason being is nowhere else will you be able to get so close to observing the flood event without being in harms way. You'll be above it and be able to see and sense the impact that has."
The estimated cost for the project is about $4 million, Chamber of Commerce President Randy Allen has said previously.
The ad hoc committee has fundraised $2.3-2.5 million for the project so far, Plank said. Of that, $1 million was a donation from local philanthropist B.J. DeLong with the stipulation that the money be used for riverfront access.
Property demolition bid approved
Also Tuesday, the Parks and Recreation Commission approved TEB Civil Constructor's bid of $32,433 to demolish 602 and 606 E. McCarty St., two properties located in the proposed School Street local historic district.
The commission voted in December to proceed with demolishing the two properties. The Parks Department hopes to demolish the buildings for green space near the greenway trail.
The former owner of 606 E. McCarty St. also donated the structure with the promise it would be demolished and used as green space.
The proposed local historic district would encompass properties in the 600 block of East McCarty Street, all of School Street, the 400 block of Lafayette Street, three houses on the east side of Lafayette Street, one house on East Miller Street and 500 Lafayette St.
The Jefferson City Council placed the local historic district application on the informal calendar until city staff could propose a bill that would allow properties to be added to an already established local historic district. City staff presented that bill to the city's Planning and Zoning Commission last week and the Historic Preservation Commission on Tuesday, with both commissions recommending approval.