After two years, Iowa City has a permanent solution to keep people off the Park Road Bridge’s arches

Park Road Bridge, Dec. 10, 2020. — Paul Brennan/Little Village

More than two years after Peyton Meier skateboarded down an arch of the Park Road Bridge, the Iowa City Public Works Department is getting ready to unveil its planned replacement for the chainlink fencing that has blocked access to the arches since September 2018.

The city will install planting beds at the base of each arch, Zachary Oren Smith reported in the Press-Citizen. Melissa Clow, special project administrator for the Public Works Department, told Smith in an email the beds “will eliminate the smooth approach that is now on-site, making it more difficult for people to access the arch.”

There will also be new signs warning people to keep off the arches and a new security camera.

The department intends to unveil its plans later this month.

In May 2019, Clow told Little Village the city’s plans to keep people off the arches involved building concrete walls that extended beyond the end of the arches, as well as using concrete planters as barriers to access.

“Our preferred timeline is to have it addressed this summer, so everything will be in place by the fall, when the students come back and the football season starts,” she said at the time.

The cost estimate for the new planting beds, signs and camera is $35,000, which the city will pay with money left over from the original $13.1 million in funding for the bridge.

Almost as soon as the bridge opened on Saturday, Aug. 31, people started using its arches in ways the city never intended. That weekend, five men were photographed walking over one of the arches. A week later, Meier rode down an arch.

A video Meier posted to Facebook of himself skating down the arch went viral.

The city responded by posting “No Trespassing” signs, and warning that anyone found on an arch could be charged with a simple misdemeanor. The chainlink fencing followed shortly afterward, and has remained in place ever since.

The Park Road Bridge was built as part of the Iowa City Gateway Project, which broke ground in 2016, and was designed to help address flooding problems on Dubuque Street, Park Road and the Park Road crossing of the Iowa River in northwest Iowa City. The $59 million project is the largest flood mitigation project the city has undertaken.

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