7 votes

Green Bridge


Photo taken by Historic American Engineering Record

BH Photo #115368

Street Views 


Three-span through truss bridge over Raccoon River formerly on SW 5th Street, now a pedestrain trail in Des Moines
Des Moines, Polk County, Iowa
Open to pedestrains only
Built 1898; closed to traffic in 1993; rehabilitated 1998 and 2016 for pedestrian usage
- J.H. Killmar of Des Moines, Iowa (Contractor)
- Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania & Woodlawn, Pennsylvania (Iron/Steel Manufacturer)
- King Bridge Co. of Cleveland, Ohio (Builder)
- L. Higgins of Des Moines, Iowa (Engineer)
Pratt through truss
Length of largest span: 134.8 ft.
Total length: 400.9 ft.
Deck width: 16.4 ft.
Posted to the National Register of Historic Places on May 15, 1998
Also called
Southwest Fifth Street Bridge
Jackson Street Bridge
5th Street Trail Bridge
Approximate latitude, longitude
+41.57698, -93.61908   (decimal degrees)
41°34'37" N, 93°37'09" W   (degrees°minutes'seconds")
Approximate UTM coordinates
15/448391/4602995 (zone/easting/northing)
Quadrangle map:
Des Moines SE
Inventory numbers
IA 4041 (Iowa bridge number)
NRHP 98000487 (National Register of Historic Places reference number)
BH 14264 (Bridgehunter.com ID)

Update Log 

  • March 14, 2018: New photos from Daniel Barnes
  • December 19, 2017: Updated by Dana and Kay Klein: Added category "Othmar H. Ammann Nominee"
  • April 1, 2016: New photos from Lee Smith
  • November 24, 2015: Updated by Jason Smith: Adjusted info based on latest news! :-)
  • May 5, 2014: Updated by Luke Harden: Added category "Painted green"
  • December 23, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Name Change
  • December 23, 2013: Updated by Jason Smith: Bridge to be restored through a private-public initiative.
  • October 31, 2013: Updated by Jason Smith: This bridge has been closed indefinitely and the city is even considering removing the entire structure altogether.
  • October 31, 2013: New Street View added by Luke Harden
  • September 12, 2013: New photos from Jason Smith
  • March 27, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Edited builder section to show that Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. was the actual builder/erector
  • March 27, 2013: Updated by John Marvig: Added information
  • March 24, 2013: Updated by Luke Harden: Bridge is closed due to structural concerns
  • May 10, 2012: Updated by Luke Harden: Added builder information
  • November 2, 2011: New photos from Jason Smith
  • June 16, 2008: New photos from Historic American Engineering Record


  • HAER IA-71 - Southwest Fifth Street Bridge
  • Historic American Engineering Record
  • Luke
  • Jason Smith - flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com
  • Wikipedia
  • John Marvig - marvigj27 [at] gmail [dot] com
  • Lee Smith - ljsmith_32 [at] hotmail [dot] com
  • Daniel Barnes


Green Bridge
Posted April 1, 2016, by Lee Smith

I was downtown the other day and wanted to see what progress if any they have made with the rehab. It looks like they have been working on the bridge for a little while.

Green Bridge
Posted November 24, 2015, by Nathan Holth (webmaster [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

While I do not want to diminish an extremely positive story and do not want to suggest anything other than that I am very happy to see this bridge saved from demolition and preserved, I also want to note I have personally reviewed the contract documents and plans, and the correct term for this project is "rehabilitation" as it does not meet the definition of "restoration" which seeks to be more respective of the original design and materials of the truss. Modern substitutes such as a large number of clevis style bracing connections and replacement of rivets with modern bolts mean that this is a rehabilitation rather than a restoration. That said, it does appear the original riveted built-up floor beams will be retained, although with the replacement of a number of rivets with bolts. On the other side of the coin, it appears a number of alterations on this bridge are from prior work not related to the current project, and some modern substitutes may be to address areas of the bridge that already suffered from loss of original material.

Green Bridge
Posted November 24, 2015, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

It's official! The Des Moines City Council has approved the restoration of the Green Bridge. Contract will be let in the coming week with the project to commence in the spring. If all goes well, the bridge will be reopen by this time next year. More details here: http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2015/11/25/reconstruct...

Many thanks to all that have helped a great deal to make it happen! :-D

Green Bridge
Posted November 2, 2015, by Roger Deschner (rogerdeschner [at] gmail [dot] com)

Good news! Funding for Green Bridge Raised- Restoration to Proceed - See more at: http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2015/10/08/funding-for...

Green Bridge
Posted May 7, 2015, by ArtS (asuckewer [at] knite [dot] com)
Green Bridge
Posted April 12, 2015, by Jason Smith (flensburg [dot] bridgehunter [dot] av [at] googlemail [dot] com)

More funding possibilities for the bridge available. There's a Mayor's Run/Walk on April 18th. T-shirts are being sold and donations are also being taken by the DM Community Center. More information here: http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2015/04/12/green-bridg...

Green Bridge
Posted October 14, 2014, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Additional money approved for the renovations of the Green Bridge in Des Moines, a PPP project approved in December. With $1.25m in the bag, it's just a matter of grants and other fund-raising drives to make up the difference for the project expected to cost up to $3m. More here: http://www.kcci.com/news/500000-approved-to-save-downtown-br... More on how the bridge will be renovated will come very soon, but things are really looking up thanks to the efforts by many dedicated people wanting the bridge to stay. :-)


5th Street Trail Bridge
Posted December 23, 2013, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Congratulations to the Friends of the Green Bridge for a resounding victory! A 7-0 City Council Approval for a joint project to raise funds and restore the 1898 Raccoon River crossing that has been closed since March! Now the next step is fund-raising and determining the bridge's needs (exactly)! More details here in this link: http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2013/12/24/newsflyer-c...

Many cheers for the efforts!

5th Street Trail Bridge
Posted November 28, 2013, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Two important announcements: 1. A petition is going around to be sent to the Des Moines City Council. Click on the link below and follow it to CREDO to sign. Also like the page and keep up to date on the latest with the bridge.

Link: http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2013/11/28/jackson-str...

2. The Des Moines City Council talked about the bridge during the meeting on the 26th of November, which included five people speaking for saving the bridge and a pair against it. The claim that it will cost $3.7m to restore the bridge is too high according to many. If you know of any restoration examples that are LOWER than $3m, please post your examples on the Bridgehunter's Chronicles' facebook page. I already have a few bridges from Michigan on there, but I'm sure there are enough US examples to go around.

Next meeting is December 16th. More information will be posted then. Happy Thanksgiving! :-)

5th Street Trail Bridge
Posted November 19, 2013, by Luke Harden (lukemh9 [at] gmail [dot] com)
5th Street Trail Bridge
Posted November 8, 2013, by Julie Bowers (jbowerz1 [at] gmail [dot] com)

They did ultrasound of the eyebars which they thought showed cracking. Nels says that is wrought iron slag lines. We have talked tobthe engineer just waiting on parks board to call Back next week.

This could be a cool educational experience for all.

5th Street Trail Bridge
Posted November 8, 2013, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)


From what I understood (although it is unclear if these facts are true) is that pier issues and broken eyebars are the primary reasons why the bridge is closed. But as you said, the bridge was restored in 1998 and appears to be in fabulous shape. The City might be making excuses to justify tearing the bridge down because they're trying to modernize the southern portion of the City with new bridges. I tried to get in touch with the city engineer demaning the inspection reports on the bridge but haven't heard anything. Julie Bowers tried to contact them but only got brief answers so something is fishy here... I just heard that the Waterworks Truss Bridge is also on the hit list. Get the word out for our next plan is to start a petition drive to get the city to reconsider. Other ideas, including purchasing the bridge for rehab and others may be in the works...

Stay tuned.


5th Street Trail Bridge
Posted November 7, 2013, by Nathan Holth (form3 [at] historicbridges [dot] org)

I am having difficulty understanding the situation here. Based on the photos, the bridge appears to be preserved for pedestrian use. Although beginning to show signs of rust, the paint system overall appears to be intact. I find it hard to believe that the bridge suffers from widespread section loss that would render a vehicular truss bridge unsafe for the light loads of pedestrian usage, or would be expensive to prepare.

Des Moines should join the 21st Century and strive to be a great city, not a boring city devoid of history and facilities for non-motorized traffic. They should join forward-looking cities like Grand Rapids, Michigan and rehabilitate this bridge for continued vehicular traffic. Grand Rapids just repainted its Blue Bridge (haven't even got the photos online yet)... and it wasn't even rusty yet!


5th Street Trail Bridge
Posted November 7, 2013, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

A facebook page for this bridge has been created, using it as a platform for photos, information and as a petition to force the City of Des Moines to reconsider. Right now, almost 700 likes out of the goal of 1000 has been reached. The plan is once the millennium mark is reached, we'll start several measures to put heat on the city government which owns the bridge. Ideas include petition drives, meetings and the like. To join the movement, please go to this link: https://www.facebook.com/5th.Street.Bridge

You'll receive updates on this bridge through this page, while examples of restored historic bridges will be posted via Bridgehunter's Chronicles, which you can like and follow by going here: https://www.facebook.com/TheBridgehuntersChronicles or through twitter.

Let's join in the fight to save this important landmark.


5th Street Trail Bridge
Posted November 4, 2013, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

More information about the 5th Street Trail Bridge: http://thebridgehunter.areavoices.com/2013/11/04/what-to-do-...

5th Street Trail Bridge
Posted October 31, 2013, by Jason Smith (JDSmith77 [at] gmx [dot] net)

Word is getting around that the City of Des Moines has decided to close the bridge indefinitely with plans of removing the entire crossing being not so far off. The situation with the bridge is dire for the City does not want to pay for the repairs and maintenance and would prefer to relieve itself of its responsibilities and liability to the bridge. Work has started to find ways to force the city council to reconsider this decision. Any suggestions should be made to the groups working to save Des Moines' heritage, including Lost Des Moines (group found via facebook).

Des Moines Trail Bridge
Posted March 24, 2013, by Luke Harden
Des Moines Trail Bridge
Posted October 15, 2011, by Matt Mazan (mmazan1 [at] yahoo [dot] com)

Current photos