Iowa City now taking bids for construction of ‘pedestrian deterrents’ to keep people off Park Road Bridge arches

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

The plan to keep people from skateboarding down or walking over the arches of the Park Road Bridge took another step forward on Monday, as the Iowa City Public Works Department began accepting bids for the construction of “four (4) concrete Pedestrian Deterrents to be located where the arches meet the sidewalk.”

Almost as soon as the bridge opened in August 2018, people started using its arches in ways the city never intended. During its first weekend in service, five men were photographed walking over one of the arches. A week later, Peyton Meier rode his skateboard down an arch to the cheers of onlookers.

A video of the stunt Meier posted to Facebook 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. Chainlink fencing followed shortly afterward, and has remained in place ever since.

In December, Melissa Clow, special project administrator for the Public Works Department, told the Press-Citizen the city had decided on adding concrete planting beds at the bases of the arches to “eliminate the smooth approach that is now on-site, making it more difficult for people to access the arch.”

The planting beds were designed by HTNB, the Kansas City-based infrastructure firm that designed the bridge and the smooth approach to its arches, as part of the $50 million 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 estimated cost to construct the four concrete pedestrian (and skater) deterrents is $35,000 and will be paid for with money left over from the Iowa City Gateway Project.

The bidding process for the project will remain open until Feb. 12.