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Rush County urging limestone bridge repair

By MIKE CORN

mcorn@dailynews.net

LA CROSSE -- Still wanting to rebuild a historic-but-crumbling triple-arch limestone bridge, Rush County commissioners hope they can entice their counterparts in Russell County to break loose with a little more cash for the project.

Russell County, however, has stuck with its initial response of tearing down the historic bridge, constructed in 1936 by the Works Progress Administration, and building a new one.

Despite that, Russell County commissioners, at a joint meeting last week, agreed to contribute $65,000 toward the reconstruction project, according to Rush County Highway Department supervisor John Moeder.

The reconstruction project, however, is expected to cost $192,000 to complete, even though it won't maintain the historic integrity of the bridge.

Instead, the project entails installing corrugated steel plates on the underside of the arches and building concrete footings under each one.

Soil from the deck would be removed and a series of anchors and cables installed to pull the guardrails back to plumb.

The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places, but the idea is to remove the bridge so construction can begin.

A smaller double-arch bridge would be substituted for the triple-arch bridge on the list.

That project is ongoing and could occur even without reconstruction of the larger bridge.

The double arch bridge is newer, built in the 1940s, believed to be by WPA.

Moeder said Russell County continues to think tearing down the old bridge and building a new one is the best way to proceed, in large part due to cost.

At a meeting Monday, Rush County commissioners agreed to send a letter to Russell County with an offer designed to increase Russell County's contribution.

Moeder said the details of the offer would be spelled out in the letter.

Rush County continues to favor reconstruction of the existing bridge.

"Time is of essence," he said. "We want to get moving as quickly as possible."