Nearly two years ago, deterioration on what is known as Bridge No. 89850 led to its closure. During its meeting Tuesday morning, the Redwood County Board of Commissioners took another step toward reopening the bridge when it approved the bid letting date of April 10, which is when those submitting bids for the project would be opened – with the low, responsible bid for the project submitted for recommendation to the county board.
Called the swayback bridge in Ramsey Park, the unique historical structure was initially closed to all traffic as inspections were conducted to determine the extent of that deterioration. The inspection revealed significant damage to the deck of the bridge, which led to the decision the bridge would remain closed to vehicles until it could be repaired. Over the next several months a variety of government agencies got involved with the project in order to determine the best approach to repairing it.
As a Works Progress Administration (WPA) project, the bridge drew the attention of the state historic preservation office and the Minnesota Historical So-ciety. It wanted to ensure the unique bridge maintained its historic value and determined it did not want significant changes to take place. Further research discovered the deck itself had been repaired over time, as the original concrete deck had a bituminous layer added, which would have constituted change to the structure – albeit not to the bridge’s intrinsic historical value.
Constant flooding over a lengthy period of time on the bridge erected to allow for water to flow over it at high river stage began to cause deterioration, especially where it came between the concrete and bituminous layers.
In addition to the historic concerns, the Minnesota Department of transportation also determined use of state bonding dollars would require change to the project including the addition of safety rails – which created historic and practical concerns.
After all, bridge rails on a structure created to allow for high water flows could result in consistent damage and loss to those rails.
A number of meetings held over the ensuing months led to compromises, concessions and agreements that allowed the project to progress.
According to Willy Rabenberg, Redwood County highway engineer, the project is going to be funded using bonding dollars, as well as a legacy fund grant, and he estimated the project to cost in the $500,000-750,000 range. Work is going to include deck repair, tuck pointing and repair to the bridge’s piers.
Once the bid has been awarded, Rabenberg said the project would be added to the already existing project schedule for the county.
He added the project could be completed by the end of the summer if all things go well.
Spring flooding and high river based on snow melt could delay the start of the project.
Page 2 of 2 - Once the project is completed the transfer of the bridge from the county to the City of Redwood Falls would continue,
Rabenberg admitted the process has been a long one, but it was important to ensure it was done the right way.
In other action during its meeting Tuesday, the county board:
• Approved a retainer agreement at a cost of $200 per month for ditch issues with attorney Kurt Deter of Rinke Noonan. Commissioner John Schueller said having Deter on retainer is something the county should have done a long time ago, especially as the county proceeds with its ditch determination.
• Accepted a boat and water safety grant in the amount of $1,823 from the State of Minnesota. According to Randy Hanson, Redwood County sheriff, the funds are likely going to be used to purchase some cold water rescue suits and life jackets.
• Took action on several items related to the proposed recycling center project, including adopting a resolution that would allow for the refunding of cash spent on the project with future bonding dollars, approved an offer to sell approximately eight acres of county-owned land to the joint powers board at a cost of $12,000 per acre and adopted a resolution officially accepting the $1.9 million grant from the state and making a commitment to proceed with the project.
• Approved a conditional use permit for the CapX2020 transmission line project that would allow for the use of a 40-acre site in Section 14 of Underwood Township as a staging area for its construction and erection work in the area.