City plans pedestrian bridge to better connect parks and trails
The city of South Bend’s mission to connect more of its parks and trails will lead to a new pedestrian-only bridge across the St. Joseph River.
The bridge, to be the first pedestrian-only bridge built by the city in recent memory, will connect to the river’s west bank near the point where Marion Street turns into Riverside Drive. It will connect to the east bank just north of where the East Race empties into the river.
The city’s Board of Public Works on Tuesday awarded a $97,000 contract to the Lochmueller Group for engineering services to design the bridge. The city has converted former railroad trestles for pedestrian use but this is believed to be the first bridge that the city has built for pedestrians only.
It’s part of the city’s mission to connect more parks and trails, said Caleb Bauer, the city’s executive director of community investment.
"Adding some additional crossing points can help develop those loops so that people can experience the trails in different ways, and certainly to facilitate safe pedestrian crossings," Bauer said. "They can cross, obviously, on the existing bridges, but having a pedestrian crossing there south of Leeper Park, we hope can activate Leeper Park further, and then help connect people over to the East Bank Trail as well."
The bridge is budgeted to cost $3 million. The city will pay for it with proceeds from $34 million in tax incremental financing district bonds it issued earlier this year for a list of neighborhood improvement projects. Many of the projects came from neighborhood plans.
The city hopes to start construction next year or in early 2025.