The Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge was struck hard on April 5. That’s when the Burleigh County Commission voted to end a partnership with Friends of the Rail Bridge.
Friends of the Rail Bridge is trying to stop the demolition of the Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge, which is 138 years old and spans the Missouri River between Bismarck, N.D., and Mandan, N.D. BNSF wants to replace the structure with a new one.
Friends of the Rail Bridge had until March 15 to put together a public-private partnership that would own the Bismarck-Mandan Rail Bridge and convert it to a pedestrian bridge. The Burleigh County Commission thought it was able to give the group access to additional liability insurance through the North Dakota Insurance Reserve Fund. However, it was later learned the insurance fund could cover Burleigh County’s liability, but not that of the Friends of the Rail Bridge, so the partnership has been dissolved.
The Friends of the Rail Bridge asked if the Burleigh County Commission could wait another year before deciding to walk away. The request came with no additional legal or financial commitment, but was turned down.
If a public-private partnership is established, a financial management plan needs to be submitted by July 28 and a lease agreement with BNSF needs to be introduced by May 2022. The U.S. Coast Guard will ultimately decide if the bridge stays or goes.