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Historic PR Red Bridge could stay in park

The Red Bridge will be relocated in the park, replaced by a sleeker model. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)

By Anna Erickson

The Park Rapids community would like the Red Bridge to be moved to a spot in the southeast portion of Red Bridge Park.

That was the consensus at a meeting Tuesday evening.

City officials presented plans for the Red Bridge replacement project in Park Rapids Tuesday and were also looking for feedback on the placement of the historic Red Bridge.

Construction is slated to begin on the new bridge this fall.

The project will be in three parts, said Brian Hiles, city engineer.

The first part of the project is replacing sanitary sewer and water main through the area of Red Bridge Park. After those are replaced, the road will be made gravel until next spring.

Beginning in mid- to late-September, the Department of Natural Resources will begin replacement of the new bridge, a 180-foot steel structure.

“The bridge will be three times as long as the current bridge,” Hiles said. “Much of the peninsula will be removed but the west side of the bridge will be in about the same place.”

The height between the bridge and Fish Hook River will stay at 7 ½ feet. The extra length is to make the bridge handicapped accessible.

Most of the bridge replacement will take place this fall except for the concrete decking. Because it will be late fall, the DNR will likely wait until spring to complete that part of the bridge.

Next spring, after the bridge is completed, the city will finish its improvement project, which will include paving the road and parking lot, along with the trail.

“Everything should be done by the end of June, before the Fourth of July,” Hiles said.

The city has received $137,000 in grant funding for the improvements. The new steel bridge is paid for by state DNR funding.

The Red Bridge replacement project will reroute the current trail, which goes across the trestle bridge to Highway 34. The trestle bridge is in poor condition and is posted now for a maximum of 1,500 pounds. The DNR will remove the trestle bridge as part of the project. It will not be replaced.

The trestle bridge will be removed one or two years after the Red Bridge replacement project is completed, DNR officials said.

The project will align with the Heartland Trail master plan, which shows the trail heading west through Red Bridge Park and along Beach Road with the final destination being Moorhead. The Heartland Trail Association and Chamber of Commerce have been a part of the planning project as well.

“We want to maintain the aesthetic and historic value of the bridge so people can still use it for photos,” City planner Dan Walker said in past meetings.

Input received at Tuesday’s meeting will be presented to the Park Rapids City Council next week so they can make a decision on how to move forward with the project.

To find out more information about the project contact Dan Walker at 732-3163.

Anna Erickson
Anna Erickson is editor of the Wadena Pioneer Journal.
(218) 631-2561