Bridging nature with industry
As you drive into the City of Park Falls you are greeted with a sign reading, “Welcome to Park Falls – Bridging Nature with Industry.” This hybrid of attractions has fueled the success of this small north-central Wisconsin community since its incorporation in 1912, drawing anglers, paddlers and paper-mill entrepreneurs for as long as it can remember.
The main vehicular thoroughfare in Park Falls, and the quickest route connecting residents to the hospital and other critical amenities, is via the bridge that crosses the Flambeau River on State Highway 182. As the only bridge that crosses the waterway within City limits, and at nearly 70 years old, its state of serious deterioration and inadequately narrow roadway width needed to be addressed.
The solution was a replacement bridge that needed to fulfill multiple objectives: provide a safe, structurally sound and aesthetically pleasing new bridge while accommodating to the spatial requirements, sensitive machinery and existing footprint of the adjacent riverfront paper mill, Flambeau River Papers. It also needed to protect the area’s most valuable natural resource—the Flambeau River.
Unique challenges, thoughtful solutions
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) asked MSA Professional Services, Inc. (MSA) to provide design engineering services for the new bridge. The solution for the structure itself was a 282-foot-long, three-span, pre-stressed concrete girder bridge. The bridge was widened from a 24-foot clear road width to 36-foot clear road width, plus a seven-foot-wide sidewalk. The design included cost-effective solutions to many unusual challenges, among which are as follows:
- Tight physical constraints to an adjacent, older mill building and other nearby buildings
- Overhead walkway above and adjacent to one end of the bridge
- An existing city water main conflicting with the new west abutment, with no exact location known
- Shallow bedrock and deeper water in the river, challenging the pier foundation construction
- Paper-manufacturing machinery inside the adjacent mill building that is extremely vibration-sensitive
A new City centerpiece
MSA met these challenges with innovative design solutions to meet vehicular and pedestrian needs, create a durable, aesthetically-pleasing structure, avoid disturbance to the adjacent mill operations and city water main, and minimize impacts to the sensitive Flambeau River. By using careful new bridge layout details, drilled shaft pier foundations, an adjustable west abutment detail, extra-sensitive vibration monitoring and other solutions, the result speaks for itself: a new bridge that metaphorically, literally, and successfully bridges the gap between industry and nature in the charming community of Park Falls, Wisconsin.
The Park Falls State Highway 182 Bridged was honored with a 2019 Engineering Excellence Best of State Award from the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) of Wisconsin.