To make the planned Adrian's Island bridge a destination and encourage sponsors, Jefferson City officials said they want to add rail car-style replicas containing museums highlighting Missouri's history.
The idea is to have four rail car-style replicas on the 826-foot bridge leading down to Adrian's Island, a 30-acre strip of land between the Missouri River and Union Pacific Railroad tracks that the city hopes to turn into a park. Each individual rail car would host a museum, highlighting various aspects of Missouri's history, which could include information about the Missouri River, the Capitol, the Union Pacific Railroad or Missouri transportation.
"The whole bridge would be a destination — it would be a whole experience," Jefferson City Mayor Carrie Tergin said. "You would want to go to the bridge to experience this very cool train concept, (the) education, and of course the view and getting to the riverfront, getting to that park. It's not just about walking from point A to point B. It's about the thousands of students that visit our Capitol, having that educational experience that could potentially come with this whole concept."
The ad hoc team had a difficult time getting donors for the bridge, but officials hope this concept will encourage more interest. Individuals or companies could sponsor these museums to help raise funds for the bridge, Jefferson City Area Chamber of Commerce President Randy Allen said Thursday.
Tergin emphasized the concept is still in the preliminary stages and has not been set.
The portion of the bridge that goes over the railroad tracks must be caged or fenced in under Union Pacific Railroad's rules. With this in mind, they brainstormed ways to add to the overall Adrian's Island experience.
"There's a lot to discover in the area, so imagine when you walk through and you're going down to the riverfront and all of a sudden you're going through these train cars, and you have a whole world of information to discover instead of just the view and the beautiful river we have," Tergin said. "There is just nothing else like this in the state, and there's nothing else like this that could really highlight history and kind of the past and future and industry and transportation and all those things that make Jefferson City who we are, that make our state what we are."
The project originally was estimated at $3.2 million; but with the rail car concept, Allen said, the estimated price tag may be close to $4 million.
An ad hoc committee has raised approximately $2.3 million, Allen said.
Part of that $2.3 million includes a $1 million donation from local philanthropist B.J. DeLong, with the condition the money be used only for riverfront development.
Allen said they hired a consultant to conduct a fundraising study to determine whether the project is still feasible. This study could be completed next month.
The rail car replicas would be constructed so as not to impede the 10-foot bridge walking path, Allen said, so they would not prevent emergency vehicles from driving down the bridge.
With 548 feet as the flood elevation, about 13 acres of the island would not be underwater at that point, Todd Kempker, project manager with Bartlett & West, has said previously. This 13 acres is where the bridge would be located, while the park would include 30 acres.
Since Jan. 1, 2000, the island has flooded five times for a total of 22 days, Kempker said.
While the bridge would add to the experience, Allen said, riverfront access is still the prime destination.
"The riverfront is still the destination, but we want to create an intermediate destination from the Veterans Memorial all the way down to the island," he said. "Why not take advantage of that experience and put some of these walking museums as a part of this?"
The Missouri House of Representatives passed a bill — sponsored by state Rep. Mike Bernskoetter, R-Jefferson City, last month that would give Jefferson City 0.19 acres between the Senate Garage and Veterans Memorial for riverfront access to Adrian's Island, which stretches from the Capitol to the former Missouri State Penitentiary. The Missouri Senate passed an amended version of the bill, which was sent back to the House of Representatives for consideration.
A hearing for the amended bill is slated for 5 p.m. Tuesday.