High Trestle Trail Bridge

Madrid, Iowa
Construction Cost: $815,000
Area / Square Feet: 31,680
Occupancy Date: May 2011

The Ankeny to Woodward Trails project, a 25-mile Rails to Trails conversion, was developed in cooperation with nine public entities and facilitated by the Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation and Polk County Conservation Commission.

The primary design challenge focused on transforming the bridge over the Des Moines River into a destination point that would draw visitors from throughout central Iowa. The result is the half-mile-long High Trestle Bridge, a unique combination of art and architecture representing the fifth longest pedestrian and bicycle bridge in the United States.

Inspiration for the project came from hiking the banks of the Des Moines River, studying photographs and taking trips to local museums. An underlying narrative emerged based on the geology of the river valley, as well as the local coal mining history.

The bridge creates an experience for both pedestrians and cyclists, framed by “portals” — vertical elements that form a gateway to the bridge. These sculptured symbols, more than 48 feet tall, speak to the geology of the area while visually “focusing” the trail and creating a sense of entering a mine. The concept is carried out by the changing geometry of the Corten steel cribbing, which simulates a mine’s tunnel.