The bowstring bridge provides an architectural landmark on the north side of town.    Jenn Goad/Kokomo Herald
The bowstring bridge provides an architectural landmark on the north side of town. Jenn Goad/Kokomo Herald

Last week, part of State Road 931 was closed in order to install a prefabricated pedestrian bridge. The bridge will eventually connect the Industrial Heritage Trail to the Nickel Plate Trail. Currently, the trail follows train tracks 37 miles from Kokomo to Rochester. The addition of the footbridge will add additional distance for users to go from downtown Kokomo to Rochester once the two trails are connected. 

“There are probably two notable advantage of having this bridge installed. Number one, from a from an alternative transportation connectivity stand point, it really is one of the final hindrances of connecting the trail between Kokomo and Rochester. That portion of the trail has always been a concern for us from a safety standpoint. We didn’t want to relocate the trail off of the alignments significantly in order to provide a crossing at a signalized intersection so this allows us to connect the Industrial Heritage Trail portion of the Nickel Plate in Kokomo to the rest of the Nickel Plate to the north without having that requirement,” said City of Kokomo Engineer Carey Stranahan. 

There are still roads to cross to the north that are not at intersections with signals, but Stranahan said those locations are out of the control of the city. As for the Industrial Heritage Trail here, he said there are a few spots in town that need to get connected, but he expects that to happen sometime this year.

“It’s really going to make it convenient and useful for folks who live in Kokomo to ride their bikes or even run,” he said.

An added bonus of the bowstring bridge is that the city now has a distinct architectural landmark to the north side of Kokomo.

“We have an added benefit, I feel like, of providing a piece of infrastructure that will also help drivers know where the trail is and know that it exists as well as provide an aesthetic art piece welcoming people into Kokomo. It will help create a landmark for our community,” he said.

Just because the bridge is in place doesn’t mean it is ready for use. Stranahan said there is still quite a bit of work to be done, and despite the setbacks caused by the wet, cold spring weather, he believes the bridge will be functional by Memorial Day.

“There’s more to it than what you are seeing right now,” he said. “There are still some steel pieces that go down below on each end that help accentuate the characteristics of the bridge and a lighting package that will allow it to look nice in the evenings. There is also a City of Kokomo logo on it in backlit letters.”

This bridge is similar to two other bowstring pedestrian bridges in the city limits, but this bridge will feature an asphalt pathway over a concrete deck as opposed to wood like the others. That deck still needs to be installed. Stranahan said he figures the asphalt may not even be cooled before the first user goes across, because they won’t be able to keep the users off it once that is done.

He said, “Our goal is that this bridge connects so many, not just from a geographic standpoint, but from a user experience standpoint. It connects a lot more people to the trail itself. You will be able to get on downtown and feel comfortable that you can ride as far north as you want to. The trail users from the north aren’t going to get down to a point and say they can’t go any further or don’t feel comfortable doing so. It makes a statement about our community at the same time that we support trails and greenways and alternative transportation.”

Charlie Skoog, trail advocate and enthusiast has watched the Nickel Plate Trail develop from the very beginning. An avid cycler, he is ready to check out the bridge once it is complete.

“I may no longer live in Kokomo but I will be back in June and I can’t wait to ride across the bridge,” he said. “It’s a safe place for people to get some exercise and you have somewhere to go now. It’s all about quality of place. It’s going to be so awesome when the trail gets completed.”