Steyer Bridge on a postcard from between 1910 and 1920, from the collection of James Ronan of Decorah.
Steyer Bridge on a postcard from between 1910 and 1920, from the collection of James Ronan of Decorah.

Erdman Engineering of Decorah will provide work on the Steyer Bridge restoration project at a fee not to exceed $11,000.

The Decorah City Council approved the contract during its meeting last month. The firm will provide design and construction management for the project. The short-span stone arch structure is located in Twin Springs Park. Built in 1875, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The proposed repairs will cost approximately $80,000, and the city has applied for $41,00 in grant funds

John Dingley, a local stonemason, will be the contractor for the project and is working with Erdman Engineering on design and construction estimations.

According to the scope of services agreement, Erdman will assist Dingley with design as needed to restore concrete sidewall, stone wing walls, retaining wall and other stabilization measures and add a new railing system. The firm also will prepare and plan documentation to show the extent of work, and plan improvements sequence and traffic control sequence.

In addition, Erdman will provide construction observation and administration as necessary to assist the contractor and verify site conditions match design assumptions.

The Steyer Bridge is named after its builder, Michael Steyer, who was a local stonemason. It consists of roughly cut limestone, and the concrete-decked arch is supported by a stone and concrete substructure, according to

"Although stone arches are rare in Iowa, Winneshiek County is in an area which was conducive for the construction of this particular bridge design. Stone suitable for the arch was readily available throughout the region," states.

"Given the abundance of materials, the masonry arch seemed a logical and economical choice for small-scale crossings. Since its construction, the arch has carried moderate vehicular traffic in the park with no alterations of note. Because it is an example of vernacular engineering and is one of the few examples of stone arch design in Iowa, the Steyer Bridge is therefore both a historically and structurally significant transportation-related resource."

According to City Manager Chad Bird, the start of the Steyer Bridge restoration depends on the outcome of the grant application. He said City Engineer Lindsay Erdman will be coordinating work on the structure with Jim McCaffrey of McCaffrey's Dolce Vita in Decorah to keep the bridge open when McCaffrey's is open (Wednesday through Sunday). McCaffrey's is located west of the bridge on Twin Springs Road.