Whats New About the Old Jefferson Footbridge

SPRINGFIELD, Mo.-- Joe Gidman and his mom Claire love Springfield's Commercial Street. So much so in fact, they've opened three businesses along the historic stretch. 

"There's a business up here that can be had," Claire said. "We own [Van Gogh Eeterie]. We own Cafe Cusco and we own Chabom Teas and Spices," she said Monday.

Each restaurant, she says, has now benefited from a recent rise in C-Street's popularity among Springfield tourists. 

 "The change has catapulted in the last years," she said.  

But there's one spot now void of traffic. It’s a spot that would maybe even bring more visitors to the area. 

The Jefferson Avenue Footbridge (seen from the windows of Joe and Claire's newest restaurant, Van Gogh Eeterie) was recently closed due to structural problems. 

“During a routine inspection the city found some issues with the bridge as far as rust and pitting," City Engineer Andrew Flippin explained.

But this kind of wear and tear is to be expected. After all, the bridge was built about 116 years ago. 

"It has a lot of history and significance for the city," said John Sellars, Springfield Historian, and History Museum Director. 

He calls its construction a “lifesaver.” 

"A lot of people, lived north of the tracks,” he said. “It was incredibly dangerous to get across all of those tracks. It was a lifeline for all of that community north of Commercial Street."

But this historian is today, one of a few excited to hear the bridge may soon reopen. 

“That footbridge is just another piece of that movement of Commercial Street and bringing it back to life," Sellars said. 

Flippin says if the city approves, soon public works will be able to fix the structural issues, maybe add some upgrades, and finally reopen the bridge.

“We'll keep the look exactly the way that it is,” the engineer said. 

The refurbishment should make for a more appealing view from across the street at Van Gogh Eeterie and a more impressive experience for those visiting a historic part of town. 

“It's so picturesque,” Gidman added. “It makes you feel like you're at a destination."

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