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Burlington Takes First Step Towards Replacing Cascade Bridge

A major topic of discussion in Burlington has been whether the city will repair or replace the more than 100-year-old Cascade Bridge. It was built in 1896 over Cascade Ravine, and leads from Burlington's Main Street into Crapo Park.

The bridge has been closed to traffic since 2008, but until a few years ago people could still walk or ride their bike across it. To some it's an outdated piece of infrastructure, while others consider it a piece of history.

Dean Phenicy has been a vocal supporter of replacing the bridge. He often speaks out in support of the bridge at city council meetings and other community forums. He said he remembers driving across the it to have picnics in the park with his family.

"I think the city doesn't realize the diamond in the rough we have with the park," Phenicy said.

City leaders have said Cascade Bridge isn't safe and needs to be torn down, but they can't do that now because it's listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The city closed off access to the bridge and had fences put up in 2019 after a report showed structural damage and said it could be unsafe.

The city council on May 17, 2021 accepted $1 million in state grant money for work on the bridge. That means they'll have to start bidding on the bridge replacement project by 2024.

Phenicy said he'll be happy to see the bridge eventually replaced, and hopes it brings more life into Crapo Park.

"It will bring more people in the park to do things. It’s a beautiful park," Phenicy said.  "Why don't we use it more for events and other things?"

The city still faces a lengthy process to remove the current bridge from the National Register of Historic Places. Once the bridge is removed from the list, the city can tear it down and build a new one.

David Hightower is a former reporter at Tri States Public Radio.