DOT wants your opinion on rebuilding the Water Street Bridge

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Run, bike or drive. Everyday it is how people cross the Water Street Bridge in Eau Claire.

A main roadway, connecting college and commerce, spanning the
Chippewa River for more than sixty years.

But now, a new chapter starts to unfold.

"I think people are excited to have a bridge they would have some input into," said Dave Solberg, a Project Development Supervisor with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

The Wisconsin DOT showed off its plans Thursday night to replace the bridge within the next two to three years. With it, some big changes.

"The new bridge is a little wider than the existing bridge, we're gonna accommodate bicycle travel in both directions on the bridge," he said.

Preliminary plans also add a dedicated walking area making it easier for pedestrians to cross. And there is one big safety upgrade, too.

Bridge plans shows there is 30 feet between the surface of the bridge all the way to the ground and water and the only thing separating you from that right now is about 31 inches of railing.

Solberg says the new railing will be at least four feet tall or 48 inches, which is a national standard. And that is something Rachel Szurek is happy to hear.

"I like that the railing is higher, I think that will be safer," she said.

Others who cross the bridge each day are on board with that as well.

"It'll be great to be able to ride your bike and not be terrified about falling off the bridge," said Rachel Zarzyski, a UWEC student.

Solberg says he has gotten a lot of input about lighting, too. There are many ideas about how that aspect could be designed.

"Just the fact that it will be well lit will make me and probably Jeremy feel safer walking, especially being on campus you're here late at night studying or practicing," she added.

And so as a new chapter unfolds, so far, some approvals that change is good.

"I just think it's a great atmosphere for people in Eau Claire to live in and I think it will be a great addition," said Jeremy Steinmetz, a UWEC student.

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