Leadership for the City of Redwood Falls is very interested in moving ahead with the plan to repair the swayback bridge in Ramsey Park and to get that work going as soon as is possible.

The reason for that, said Jim Doering, public works project coordinator, is to prevent things from getting any worse.

Doering presented the plans to proceed with the repair work to the city council at its Aug. 20 meeting with the request to move forward with the process of accepting bids for that work, which was approved by the council.

The bridge was damaged this past spring when heavy flooding along with huge chunks of ice floated over the top of the historic bridge and broke off some of the bridge railing.

Doering said since the bridge sustained the damage he has been working with the Minnesota Department of Transportation and the state historic preservation office to ensure the bridge maintains its historic integrity. 

Doering said based on those conversations and the initial damage assessment, the estimate for the work is $195,000. However, he said additional inspections need to take place, especially the bottom of the bridge deck, which have not been possible because of the high water.

“There may be more after the inspection,” said Doering.

The city has applied for funding from FEMA for the bridge repair work, and Doering said the fact that it is a historic bridge should help with the funding allocation.

Missi Meyer, city director of finance and administrative services, told the council that funding from FEMA often takes some time to actually come to those requesting it. In fact, she said the city just recently received funding for a project that was approved for assistance from FEMA that occurred in 2011.

Until the funding comes in, the city covers the expense.

Doering called the swayback bridge resilient, adding the 1930s era structure has survived a lot in the years since it was originally built as part of the WPA program.

Doering said the challenge in maintaining its history is in finding a source for materials, as the stone has to come from the same source, and the materials used need to be the same.

The good news, added Doering, is that the county did a lot of that leg work on the historic makeup of the bridge prior to handing it over to the city.

In other action during its meeting, the council:

• Approved a conditional use permit and variance request for Redwood County, which is planning to erect a new tower at the law enforcement center. Due to its proposed project, the county had asked to move the communications tower from its current location to a spot in the northeast portion of the property.

• Approved the low bid for the replacement of the rooftop air handling units at the Redwood Area Community Center from Chappell Central, Inc. of Willmar at a cost of $148,541.