DES MOINES, Iowa — Downtown Des Moines’ busiest bridge is scheduled to close Monday, forcing thousands of commuters to find other ways across the Des Moines River.

The Grand Avenue bridge, which handles 7,600 vehicles daily, is being replaced, according to The Des Moines Register ( ). The replacement bridge is expected to open at the end of next year.

Demolition of the existing bridge will take about two months. The new bridge will reduce the number of piers on the Des Moines River from four to three.

The new structure will have three traffic lanes — two westbound and one eastbound — plus a westbound bicycle lane and curb parking on the south side.

The bridge’s arches will be replaced with painted metal panels that create an arch-like facade, due to cost restraints. The original design estimates showed that installing a bridge with authentic arch supports to match the arch them in the downtown area would have cost more than $30 million.

The $10.5 million Grand Avenue replacement bridge will be the first of six bridge projects to get underway. Two more bridges are being replaced and three will be refurbished downtown, disrupting downtown traffic into 2023.

Des Moines City Engineer Pam Cooksey said all of the bridges are similar in age and condition.

“Unfortunately, they were all kind of built bam, bam, bam,” Cooksey said.

The city will pay for most of the cost for the Grand Avenue bridge with capital improvement funds. About $2.1 million will be covered by federal money distributed annually by the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization.

The city recently acquired $8 million in federal funding for four of the other downtown bridge projects. The money comes from the Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery program under the U.S. Department of Transportation.

Information from: The Des Moines Register,

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