Saturday, October 11, 2008

Ride Report: The Great Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge Adventure PART 1

To give you a little background, I'll start with a news article:

Images: Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge
Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge To Open September 28
POSTED: 12:27 pm CDT September 11, 2008
UPDATED: 2:36 pm CDT September 11, 2008

OMAHA, Neb. -- Council Bluffs city officials announced on Thursday that the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge will open to the public on Sunday, Sept. 28.

Part of the celebration will include a festival that will last from noon to 3:00 p.m. which will take place on the Council Bluffs side of the river, at Playland Park.

“This is a truly historic occasion,” said Mayor Hanafan and Mayor Fahey in a joint statement. “The Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge connects two strong communities and two great states with a monument that is as practical as it is artistic, one that will be a source of identity and pride for generations.”

The ribbon cutting will begin with a joint performance by two metro high schools: Monticello’s Regiment from Thomas Jefferson High School and Omaha Central Eagle Marching Band.
The bridge will officially open to the public shortly after 1 p.m. when Mayor Fahey and Mayor Hafanan cut a ceremonial red ribbon.

Metro Area Transit buses will be there, that's because MAT is adding a new Playland Park bus stop.

Council Bluffs is currently working on a plan to select the first person to cross the bridge.
This weekend, the public is invited to see the official lighting of the bridge on Sept. 13. This time the celebration will be on the Omaha side of the river and will begin with music and other festivities at 4:30 p.m. and end with a fireworks show scheduled at 9 p.m.
The $22 million bridge is the nation's only pedestrian bridge linking two states and one of the longest pedestrian spans ever constructed.

Both the grand opening of the bridge and the lighting ceremony are free and open to the public.

Of course, I had to go check out the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. But I hadn't intended to.

I originally intended to ride the Wabash Trace Nature Trail. It's a rails-to-trails project, starting in Council Bluffs, Iowa heading south through several small towns ending up near the Missouri Border. You can read more about it here:

However, when I started from the trailhead this morning, I saw a sign pointing in the general direction of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge. I figured why the heck not? Instead of heading south, I took the trail heading towards the river.

It was a bit windy today, but the temperature was in the upper 60's - low 70's and no rain. Of course, I took the Ramby. She rode like a dream.

The trail heads west, around Lake Manawa, then north into Council Bluffs. Of course, I followed the path and ended up in downtown CB, where the path promptly ended. I've never been on this trail before, so I rode around a bit trying to get my bearings. The trail didn't continue any further north, so I tried heading west on a few side streets. I ended up in a Union Pacific rail yard and a mobile home park, but no bridge...not even a sign.

Time to backtrack. I headed back toward the Lake Manawa area. As I passed over Highway 92 (a.k.a. South Omaha Bridge Road), I saw some construction on what looked like a trail. I decided to give it a shot.

This looked promising. I rode west on a trail under construction which eventually turned into concrete slab pavement. I crossed a street past the Metro Crossing shopping area, past some soccer fields and onto the Iowa Riverfront Trail.

This trail headed into west into a nice wooded area:
Which of course ended up going through an industrial area and past two Council Bluffs casinos, Ameristar and Harrah's. There were a couple of nice Missouri river views, though.
...looking North past the Ameristar casino. You can see the riverboat on the right.
On the way past the casino, I took a picture of the Omaha skyline. That tall building is the First National Bank Tower, and I work for them. I don't work in that building, but I work at the tech center which is in the same general area.
No bridge yet, though. Since I have quite a few pictures, one post is going to be quite longish. So stay tuned for some bridge pics. Trust me, it's pretty cool!

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