NEW INFORMATION: Board approves Cobban Bridge to be removed, build new bridge

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CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. (WEAU) -- It's been a talking point for the past several months now and Tuesday night, Chippewa County board members announced they would be moving forward with plans to replace the Cobban Bridge.

“Last night the county board reviewed the preliminary alternatives and they voted on approving the contractor to move forward with the engineering firm to design the bridge,” says Brian Kelley, Interim Highway Commissioner for Chippewa County.

Kelley says a new bridge will be built just a few hundred yards south of the Cobban Bridge.

“The existing bridge will hopefully be able to stay open until the end of the construction project, then the traffic will switch to the new bridge and the old bridge will be removed at the end,” says Kelley.

Kelley says the bridge is expected to cost a total of $7.2 million. 80% of that will be funded federally, the remaining 20%, by the county.

The county discussed renovating the current bridge for foot traffic, but decided it would be too costly.

“The cost to renovate that bridge to handle pedestrian traffic is an excessive $13 million. The existing bridge is in pretty rough shape and I can't promise that it's going to last that long, but we're going to keep a close eye on it and as long as it stays like it is, we'll be able to keep it open until then,” says Kelley.

Kathy Swanson who grew up along Highway 27 says the bridge has become a popular tourist attraction.

“People come back to the area to take graduation pictures and everything taken here and it's really been a tourist attraction so I really hate to see it go. Emotionally it's been a big part of our lives, but at the same time we know it's necessary to have something safe,” says Swanson.

The county board says there's no exact timeline on when construction will start, but roughly say it could happen within the next several years.

The Chippewa County Board approved a resolution to replace the Cobban Bridge.

The Chippewa County Highway Department says the new bridge will be built directly between County Highway TT and 180th Avenue. That’s just south of the existing bridge.

Due to the conditions of the old bridge, it will be removed. The old bridge would have cost over $13 million to fix.

The new bridge is estimated to cost around $7.2 million, which includes the removal of the existing bridge.

So far there is no timeframe scheduled for the bridge construction.

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