- Associated Press - Saturday, December 23, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - BNSF Railway is weighing its options for a new railroad bridge over the Missouri River in Bismarck.

The company is considering demolishing the city’s century-old bridge to make way for a wider deck plate bridge that would offer more stability, the Bismarck Tribune reported. But some residents want to preserve the structure that has been a part of the Bismarck-Mandan skyline for 134 years.

During a meeting last week, over 75 residents proposed transferring ownership of the bridge so that a local group can manage its preservation and turn it into a walking and biking trail. The meeting is part of the U.S. Coast Guard-led National Environmental Policy Act process, which includes a 30-day public comment period on an environmental assessment.

Several residents mentioned that the bridge has become an iconic image for the community. They said it appears on postcards and is used as a backdrop for local family photos.

BNSF Railway has considered an alternative that keeps the current bridge and builds a new one 80 feet (25 meters) up the river. But the company said the proposal is problematic and would affect nearby properties. The downriver location in the demolition proposal gives the company the option of a second track.

BNSF Railway hopes to start construction next year, but still needs several agency approvals and permits for construction.

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