Alexander Lumber | Champaign, IL

Preserving Historic Bridges

Leah Rhodes, PE | with 0 Comments

Preserving Historic Bridges

The Manchester Street Bridge, a “camelback truss” bridge located in Baraboo, Wisconsin, was recently featured by in 11 Unique Wisconsin Bridges You Have to See. We agree this bridge is pretty special and is a story of dedication by many to save a historic piece of engineering.

The Manchester Bridge was built in 1884 by Milwaukee Bridge and Iron Works. It was a 104-year-old structure with a total length of 149 feet when the truss no longer adequately met vehicular traffic needs. The local Baraboo community did not want to lose this unique part of history, so private citizens worked together with City officials to preserve and repurpose the bridge.

The City, traversed by the Baraboo River, owns several small parks fronting the river. Two of these parks, lower Oschner Park and Attridge Park, sit adjacent to each other on either side of the Baraboo River. A plan was devised to move the bridge across town to serve as a foot bridge between the two parks. This solution offers users a safe, short route over the Baraboo River and accomplishes the ultimate goal of historic preservation of the bridge.

Moving the historic bridge and using it for a foot bridge resulted in a major savings for the City. A new foot bridge would have cost over $65,000 in 1987, and the cost to move the truss bridge was $27,300.  It also saved the bridge, which according to Bob Newberry, Department of Transportation historian, is one of the oldest truss bridges of its type left in the state, and is very significant in type and style.

MSA assisted with the bridge relocation and preservation planning, as well as the design for a new vehicular bridge at the original Manchester Street location.  Additionally, MSA helped the City design and construct a recreation trail through lower Oschner Park several years later. This trail, usable by bikers and pedestrians, connects Oschner Park to Attridge Park via the bridge that was relocated from Manchester Street.
MSA continues to help communities replace deteriorated historic bridges in a sensitive fashion today. Recently, we assisted Marathon County with the replacement design of a historically significant concrete arch bridge with a unique stone fascia pictured above. The replacement structure is scheduled to be built over the next year and will replicate the arch shape with a cast-in-place fascia arch beam. Additionally, stones from the old bridge will be salvaged and reused on the fascia of the new bridge.

Replacing historic bridges in a sensitive fashion takes structural understanding of the historic bridge along with insight on how to rehabilitate or replicate it in a historic manner. Contact Leah Rhodes for more information.

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