Janesville63.9°

Bridge is free, but new owner must move it

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GINA R. HEINE
June 29, 2010
— Officials are looking for a new home for the nearly century-old truss bridge that spans the Bad Fish Creek in Union Township.

The bridge is free, but there’s a catch: The recipient must pay to remove, relocate and preserve the bridge.


As historic bridges have reached the ends of their functional lives, the state Department of Transportation has offered them to the public to try to find new homes, said John Vogel, president and senior historian at Heritage Research, a consultant for the state.


“The fact that we’re doing this does not by any stretch of the imagination mean the bridge will be taken,” he said. “Time will tell if it is relocated or demolished.”


Many offerings result in no interest, and the bridges are scrapped for parts. Some bridges, however, have been relocated to county or city parks as pedestrian bridges, and a landscaping business in Washington County has relocated two bridges, he said.


“That would be the hope for the Leedle Mill Road bridge,” Vogel said. “We’re hoping a new home can be found for it.”


The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places.


With repairs, the bridge could be used for pedestrians or snowmobiles, but “major, major, major” rehabilitation would be needed for it to legally hold vehicular traffic, said Jim Lucht, project manager with AECom in Madison.


Relocation costs could easily be $50,000 to $100,000, if not much more, depending on how far the bridge is moved, the prep work needed at the new site and other factors, Vogel said.


A new bridge

The bridge was built in 1916 and is about 91 feet long and 18 feet wide. It was closed to traffic in the early 1990s after an inspection found severe deterioration of several truss members above the bridge, Lucht said.


For years, officials went back and forth over rehabbing or replacing the bridge, he said. Plans now call for a new vehicular bridge to be built in 2011 on the existing alignment with minor changes to the roadway approaches.


The bridge is on a rural road northeast of Evansville and just northwest of Cooksville.


Even though the bridge has been closed for about 20 years, adjacent property owners want a new bridge, Lucht said. Emergency response time is a factor because it increases significantly with the detoured route, he said.


“It just makes more sense to have the road open again and not cause any more delays,” said Kendall Schneider, town chairman.


Safety has been a concern for fire and EMS members and snowplow drivers, he said.


A $475,000 estimate for the new bridge includes removal of the existing bridge, assuming no one wants it. Federal and state dollars pay for 80 percent of the project, and the rest is split equally between the town and county.


The town has been setting aside money to replace the bridge for more than a decade, so it already has its 10 percent share, Schneider said.


Free bridge offering

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is offering for free the historic truss bridge on Leedle Mill Road in Union Township for relocation, rehabilitation and preservation. The recipient must move the bridge and be willing to preserve its historic integrity. The bridge is a single-span, Pratt through truss with a concrete deck. Limited money may be available from the state to help remove the bridge.


An informational package including a description of recipient responsibilities and cost estimates based on similar projects will be available. All requests for the package must be sent by Aug. 16 to John Vogel at Heritage Research, N89 W17685 Appleton Ave., Menomonee Falls, WI 53051, or by calling (262) 251-7792.


The package requests will be filled after Aug. 16, and then interested parties have 30 days to submit proposals.



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