INDIANAPOLIS — There’s a historic bridge on the near east side that’s crumbling to pieces, and a neighborhood group is doing what they can to save it.
“I’ve been watching it fall apart,” said Laurie Klinger. “I just want to get something done.”
Klinger spends most days at Spade Park. She’s watched the bridge deteriorate, and she’s doing what she can to stop it.
“It’s just been a huge challenge,” Klinger added.
Klinger is part of the Pathways Over Pogue’s (POP) organization. A group is advocating to restore the historic Nowland Avenue Bridge built in 1903.
According to their website, “POP was informed that the City was not able to pay for the design to repair the bridge without a clear source to pay for the repair as well. POP formed to get the process started. Through crowd funding, grant writing and support from the Central Indiana Community Foundation (CICF), Cummins Foundation, Indiana Landmarks, Reconnecting To Our Waterways (ROW), and Friends of Brookside and Spades Park, POP’s current fiscal sponsor, POP has been working to fund the repair of the bridge and help get the trail finished.”
Organizers say the bridge is also slowing down the process of completing the 5.3-mile Pogue’s Run Trail, which is along its route. Since 2017, the group raised $140,000.
“That was enough to get us to pay to design the repair,” Klinger explained. “The design is finished now, that happened in May of this year and we found out it’s going to cost about $524,000 to do the repair. Now we’re trying to do that.”
And the time is ticking. Klinger says if action isn’t taken soon the bridge and the plan to preserve it, could be washed away. The group would have the get permits again and reevaluate the bridge itself, which could rise costs.
“If we don’t get this done soon, like by 2021, then all of the work and all of the money we put into it we could have lost at least some of it,” said Klinger.
For Klinger and her team this isn’t just about the bridge, it’s about saving the near east side. It sits blocks away from hot spots for violence, and organizers say the look of the bridge is a signal of abandonment to the people who live here.
“It will help bring this area up, and the near east side has seen a lot of losses,” said Jerry Shepherd, a member of Pathways Over Pogue’s, “From the 70s and 80s and the factories closing, at one time we had IPS close 6 schools in our district, particularly a trail that’s going to promote fitness, nature, wellness it will be a benefit for the whole community.”
Klinger added, “It just sends a signal, when you look at the condition of this bridge that we’ve kind of been overlooked, so showing that there is work, that things are moving forward – it’s a way to make people feel like they are seen and cared about too.”
Both hope one day that the bridge will be back open and restored to its 1903 historic charm.
“It’s not going to happen unless we make it happen,” Shepherd added.
To help in this second round of fundraising, click here. The organization is also encouraging people to contact city, state and federal representatives about funding the bridge and trail.