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Jovie’s Bridge

Published: Wednesday, May 10, 2017 9:04 a.m. CST

There’s rarely a night since bringing our dog home in November we haven’t walked across “Jovie’s Bridge.”

I’ll confess, I don’t know what the proper name is for the green, metal-framed bridge crossing the Raccoon River near the ball park in downtown Des Moines. But, in my mind, the bridge belongs to our 1-year-old tan lab Jovie.

After she greets us with a few licks and furry hugs when we return from the workday, it isn’t long before we put on her Easy Walk harness and make our way down the street to the historic railroad bridge.

Of course train cars haven’t crossed the bridge for decades, but Jovie’s bridge is now a pedestrian’s paradise — connecting south Des Moines’ Little Italy with the rest of downtown. Years of restoration replaced the rail bed with reclaimed wooden planks, and structural improvements created a safe thoroughfare into the city for the residents occupying the hundreds of apartment units sprouting just across the river. It allows walkers — and their dogs — to the north to make the southside restaurants, grocery store, the VFW and parks part of their world.

Jovie’s Bridge connects us with the trail system in our neighborhood, and gives our little lab easy access to the squirrels, rabbits and other furry friends making their way around the trail.

Jovie’s Bridge provides good sightseeing on the walk to the coffee house off Court Avenue . Jovie can’t go inside for a cup, but she can hang outside with Betsy or myself, watching the street musicians — legs folded on the ground with an open guitar case singing and strumming in the shadow of the surrounding buildings.

Jovie’s Bridge is always the beginning and end of our nightly constitutional.

Bridges, both symbolically and literally, can connect a community. We were walking Jovie across the bridge last night and I started thinking about another bridge which could be given new life while breathing more life into our Jasper County community.

The movement to relocate the ailing Red Bridge near Reasnor to a new home at Quarry Springs Park in Colfax is picking up steam. The team attempting to save the bridge on the national historic registry has gained hundreds of signatures in support and has been brought to the attention of the Jasper County Board of Supervisors.

Red Bridge could be a selling point for Colfax — an attraction for visitors to and investors in Quarry Springs and the city as a destination.

If the Citizens in Support of Restoration and Preservation of Red Bridge prevail, Jovie will soon have another bridge to trot across.

Contact Mike Mendenhall at  mmendenhall@newtondailynews.com

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