Downtown Eau Claire bridge to undergo renovations

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- Walking and biking will soon be easier along one bridge in downtown Eau Claire.

The Grand Avenue Bridge will be undergoing major renovations with the goal of making it safer and more enjoyable.

The bridge was last renovated almost 40 years ago and the city says after doing its bi-yearly inspection it found the bridge was due for an update.

“This used to be a vehicular bridge and the vehicular bridge was closed due to structural concerns and at that time it was closed to vehicles and became a pedestrian bridge,” said city engineer Dave Solberg.
Solberg says the bridge will undergo construction early next year to replace the bridge deck from the late 1970's with a new concreate surface.

“The pier and the beams that support it are in good shape but the bridge deck has reached the end of its useful life so we have to put a new walking surface on,” he explained.

The between $1 million to $1.5 million project will also include a decorative railing, six overlooks instead of two, and trail lighting with conduits.

“If we want to have decorative lighting like is currently on the Phoenix Park pedestrian bridge we would be able to add the lights instead of having to mount all the cable and all the infrastructure for it will be set to go at a very low cost up front and then at some point in the future we hope this will be lite too,” added Solberg.

The new bridge will go from 10 ft. wide to 12 ft. wide increasing its usability.

“We're adding 20 percent to the width of the bridge for bicyclists and pedestrians and there's even meals that are held on the bridge for the dinner on the bridge,” said Solberg. So, a little extra room will make it safer for the everyday user and provide a little extra space for the recreational user if there are events held on the bridge.”

The city plans to begin accepting construction bids in January, start work in the spring and complete the project before the 4th of July weekend.

The city says the bridge deck may come down as early as February and when it is removed a trail detour will be set up along either Lake Street or the Phoenix Park pedestrian bridge.

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