BNSF Railway has Plans to Demolish a Historical Bridge

Bismarck - BNSF has plans to tear down the Bismarck-Mandan railroad bridge. 
BNSF officials say safety is their biggest concern and the reason why they are considering tearing it down. 
It is a lengthy, multi-year process that involves many government agencies, including the United States Coast Guard. 
However, if some members of the community have their way -- it will stay right where it is. 

Built in the 1880's this railroad bridge was the first to be this far North according to Mark Armstrong, and it sits along the Missouri River. 

Mark Armstrong, Bismarck Resident, says, "Save that piece of history, we don't have a lot of buildings from 1881."

That history may soon be going away as BNSF Railways has a program where they maintain and eventually replace bridges.
And this bridge is next on the list.

Amy McBeth, Director of Public Affairs for BNSF Railways, "Beginning the process of replacing that structure and what has to happen is there is a permitting process by the Coast Guard and the Corp of Engineers."

As BNSF Railways continues its plans in development for a new bridge it has some residents concerned because there is a lot of history behind it.

Armstrong says, "Those 4 piers, I think, are an important part of history, important part of how the settlement of this area. They were uniquely made at the time by men who went underwater."

That uniqueness has spurred almost five thousand residents to sign a petition to turn the bridge into a walkway and potential park for everyone to use.

"I respect the historical significance of the bridge, but I am for change and how they want to update, maybe possibly put the park and the walking path on," says Mathew Bentz, Bismarck Resident.

Mark 6: "I think there is still some room to figure out how to save those piers maybe and maybe cater to a multi use trail and connect it to a beautiful trail system we have." 

But for now, BNSF has a plan that's already in place --- one that doesn't include a walking bridge.  

"We plan to remove the existing structure to minimize the impact on the river, leaving the existing piers and then adding new piers for the new bridge," says McBeth.

The process of getting permits hasn't started yet and it will be happening in the near future.

Obtaining the permits is only the first step and after that-- it's still going to take years for the project. Once those permits are submitted-- it'll allow for more discussions and outreach ideas for the bridge.
Meaning, turning the railroad bridge into a walking path isn't necessarily out of the question, but one that won't be decided on for a while. 

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