Department of Transportation seeks input on Water Street bridge design

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EAU CLAIRE WI The Wisconsin D.O.T is looking for your input on the redesign of one of Eau Claire’s most heavily traveled bridges.

Wednesday night designers and project developers held an open house at UW-Eau Claire to get the public’s opinion on the redesign for the Water Street Bridge over the Chippewa River.

Designers say the new bridge will be much wider and will make getting from one side of the Chippewa River to the other a lot easier in the future.

“When I bike I can park next to my building. I get some exercise and I feel better when I ride my bike,” UW-Eau Claire Chemistry professor Bob Eierman said.

Eierman says his route to work keeps him away from most traffic but he says his students might run in to some headaches especially on one of the main roads connecting campus and the community.

“It's a fairly narrow couple of lanes for the cars and a curb and a pedestrian lane,” Eierman said.

It’s the aging Water Street Bridge he says he is excited to see get a complete overhaul in the next few years.

“As a pedestrian you’re near the traffic and you’re near the edge of the bridge that only has a 3 foot high fence to keep you from falling over,” Eierman said.

“I was thinking that the railing was really short,” UW-Eau Claire student Austin Williams said.

The Wisconsin D.O.T. says when the bridge was first installed a 37 inch railing was standard but when the new bridge is installed a much higher railing will be coming with it.

“The new bridge will have dedicated lanes for traffic it will have dedicated lanes on both sides for bicycles that match up with the Water Street bike lanes,” Project development supervisor David Solberg explained.

Its fundamental changes like these that pedestrians and drivers are hopeful will make everyone’s commute a lot easier in the future.

“It’s in this area where there is a lot of car traffic but there is also a lot of pedestrians and bikes so it has a potential to really improve safety as well as convenience,” Eierman said.

The D.O.T says the six to eight million dollar project is scheduled to begin in late fall of next year. Right now they are still taking public feedback on the proposed design.

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