Jefferson Avenue Foot Bridge
The Jefferson Avenue Footbridge in Springfield was constructed in 1902 by the American Bridge Company. It spans thirteen tracks of the Burlington Northern North Yard, connecting historic Commercial Street to the south at Jefferson Avenue and the Moon City Creative District to the north at Chase Street. The three-span cantilevered through truss footbridge rises twenty five feet above grade with the assistance of north and south approach stairs, and extends 562 feet in length. The deck is six feet wide and is comprised of horizontal wood planks fastened to a warren webbed truss of c-channels and railroad track sections extending the length of the bridge. The bridge’s most distinctive feature are the two support towers that rise 50 feet above grade and are capped with four decorative metal orbs. Its profile highly resembles a suspension bridge. Aside from removal of original bicycle ramps in 1954 the bridge’s overall appearance, integrity and function have remained intact. A renovation that took place 1998-2002 restored the bridge for its centennial and included the construction of a new events plaza and exterior lighting. The bridge was closed in March of 216 by the City of Springfield due to reported corrosion and steel loss in the north support tower. It was decided to close the bridge indefinitely and a more thorough inspection was conducted, producing five options for the bridge. Though the City Council seemed to favor the most expensive option of complete rehabilitation, no formal vote was taken. The closed bridge has caused pedestrians to use alternate routes to their neighborhoods, and thwarted tourism in the burgeoning development of the Commercial Street District. Initial fundraising being slow, a subcommittee of the Commercial Club of Springfield, the “Save Our Footbridge Committee” funded a second opinion study in order to reassure potential donors about cost and scope of renovation, and the anticipated report is expected to recommend cost savings for the project. Though the project has seen widespread support, even from second grade students who have started a “Penny A Day Helps the Footbridge Stay” campaign, major fundraising efforts have been sluggish. By listing here it is hoped that additional attention is brought to the campaign to save the bridge and that fundraising for the renovation will be stepped up.