Iconic Bridge Coming Down

By Melissa Crash

Published 07/22 2014 04:37PM

Updated 07/22 2014 08:41PM

The iconic Lake Le Fer bridge is a part of history for West Terre Haute, and the Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College community.

But it might not be around for much longer.

The bridge was built around 1922, but the concrete landmark is now unstable and can't be repaired.

However, the beauty of the bridge won't be lost, there are plans in the works to bring back this part of Saint Mary's history.

The old bridge on campus served as a scenic backdrop to many special occasions in the past.

Dottie King, the President of Saint Mary-of-the-Woods said, "There will be some mixed feelings, I think that they'll be really happy to see it re-stored but at the same time they may be a little sad to watch this bridge go away."

But the bridge isn't the only thing college officials are improving. The lake habitat also needs an update. Both projects have helped establish the Oakley Innovation Academy, a summer camp for middle school girls to come learn about science at the pond.

Janet Clark, the Vice President of Academic Affairs said, "This really couples both. It really couples the bridge that's a beautiful landmark and our lake, yet also makes it an educational setting to keep the lake healthy."

Dam repair is also a major issue the college is focusing on. The wall has eroded due to poor drainage. While students have been researching the pond, they've found species that need to be removed from the site.

"We found more species than we expected, the water quality was better than we expected, but we do know that there are some invasive plants species that we want to make sure don't overtake the natural species," said Clark.

The 300,000 dollar grant from the Hollie and Anna Oakley Foundation has helped, but more fundraising will be needed to complete the vision.

"That we know what we want to add or bring back, or what we need to strengthen, or what is being to invasive," said Clark.

Saint Mary-of-the-Woods students will soon see the change on campus. Not only from the look of the bridge, but the chance to bring class work, outside.

"So this is an excellent example of taking something old and using it for the betterment of students for tomorrow," said King.

Draining for the new scenic bridge is scheduled to be completed in late fall or winter of this year, which will allow students the opportunity once classes begin, to collect data to help improve the environmental conditions.

Right now they are aiming for construction to be done in the next couple of years.

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