JANESVILLE

Preliminary work has begun on a 230-foot pedestrian bridge that will span the Rock River between Court and Milwaukee streets and connect the downtown’s east and west sides.

An excavator moved rock near the river Thursday to build an access point for a crane to begin construction.

Project manager Eion Hess said work on the access point began this week. The crane will be brought in Monday, he said.

The bridge, which will be called the Blain Gilbertson Family Heritage Pedestrian Bridge, is among the projects overseen by ARISEnow, a public-private group promoting downtown revitalization. The privately funded bridge is slated to be finished Dec. 1.

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Work begins on the Blain Gilbertson Family Heritage Pedestrian Bridge over the Rock River on Thursda in downtown Janesville. The project is expected to be finished by December.

Construction is expected to cost $1.3 million, said Mick Gilbertson, the project’s main benefactor. He has said the bridge will be a place to view Janesville’s past and what its future will look like, thanks to the downtown revitalization project.

The middle of the span will feature a vaulted 30-foot arch, which Gilbertson has said will be about the size of a school classroom. It’s not yet known when the arch will be installed, he said.

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This conceptual image shows the pedestrian bridge ARISEnow wants to build over the Rock River between the Milwaukee and Court street bridges in downtown Janesville.

The bridge will connect the west-side town square and festival street on South River Street with a pavilion planned for 2020 on the river’s east side.

“The idea is really to celebrate where we came from and where we’re going with this bridge, and to connect the two sides of the river—the east side and the west side—to just remember where we are and lead us to all the places where we can go,” Gilbertson told The Gazette in December.

Hess said crews will begin installing the bridge’s piers the week of July 8. Construction on the deck will begin after that, he said.

Gilbertson said Thursday that ARISEnow has raised $5.4 million of its short-term goal of about $6 million for construction of the festival street, the east and west sides of the town square, the bridge, and additional lighting for the bridges on Court and Milwaukee streets.

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Gravel falls from an excavator Thursday where construction for a footbridge across the Rock River began in downtown Janesville.

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