Bridge in Eau Claire to get major updates

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- An iconic bridge in the Chippewa Valley will be getting some upgrades due to some structural issues.

The Dewey St. Bridge in Eau Claire was deemed structurally deficient by City of Eau Claire engineers.

The Dewey St. Bridge was built in 1931 and its infrastructure is becoming dated. Since the bridge needs to be updated and currently doesn’t resemble what it looked like then, the city wants to try and make it look like the original bridge.

The Dewey St. Bridge project will cost close to $2.1 million. The money will go towards replacing things like the concrete arches underneath the bridge, the entire surface, and bridge railings to try and match the original bridge back in 1931. Dave Solberg, the City of Eau Claire engineer, says it’s not uncommon for bridges to be considered structurally deficient.

Solberg says the bridge is completely safe to drive on, but it's little cracks and older joints, among other things, that make the bridge's safety rating drop.

"Structurally deficient doesn't mean that the bridge is going to fall down or we have to have any safety concerns for the public,” Solberg said. “It means that there are enough individual issues with the bridge that add up so that the rating on a scale from 0-100 drops below 50 to make it eligible for federal funding.”

And since it is eligible for a significant amount of federal funding that will cover as much as 80% of the cost up to about $1.6 million, the city council is being asked to allocate funds to cover the remaining costs.

“What we’re being asked right now is essentially for the city council to consider making an investment in this bridge knowing that it’s crumbling, that it’s an infrastructure that needs to be rebuilt and now’s an opportunity, where it looks like the federal government has money to help us do that,” Andrew Werthmann, an Eau Claire City Council member, said.

The project will keep a historic bridge in Eau Claire up-to-par with the others bridges in that area.

“It will save an iconic bridge of downtown Eau Claire,” Solberg said. “It will ensure that this bridge continues to be part of the City of Eau Claire for the next 25-50 years at least.”

Solberg says paperwork and planning for the bridge will come in 2017 while the construction on the bridge will happen in 2020. During construction, the bridge will be completely closed.

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