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Red Bridge comes down

The iconic Red Bridge was moved by crane Monday morning to start a DNR project that will include a new 180-foot steel bridge.

The Red Bridge was lifted by crane and put down in Red Bridge Park Monday morning in Park Rapids.

The Department of Natural Resources is beginning the process of replacing the Red Bridge with a 180-foot steel structure. The bridge will be approximately three times as long as the Red Bridge and extend further onto land east of the river.

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.

City officials had been working with a committee on a location in the park to move the bridge. The east side of the park was deemed the best place for the bridge to be placed. However, the crew moved the bridge to the west side of the park.

No one with the city was notified the bridge was being moved Monday morning.

City facility maintenance superintendent Chris Fieldsend said he anticipated the bridge could be moved to the east side of the park without much trouble. Crews will be on site for a while, he said.

The city Parks Board will look at possible Red Bridge Park amenities for 2014, including possible landscaping around the old bridge and benches. Ideas will likely be presented to the city council in early 2014.

This week, the DNR will start to work on the site to prepare it for placement of the new bridge.]

The Red Bridge is now sitting on land in the park next to Fish Hook River.

Earlier this fall, construction was done on Beach Road to replace the sanitary sewer and water main through the area of Red Bridge Park.

This was the first part of the Red Bridge Park project. After the sewer and water lines were replaced, the road was restored to gravel until next spring.

After the bridge is completed, the city will finish the improvement project, which will include paving the road and parking lot, along with the trail along the north side of Beach Road.

The city 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 is part of a larger Heartland Trail master plan. It 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 previously.

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.

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