By LeAnn R. Ralph
TOWN OF GRANT — The county Highway W bridge in the Town of Grant near the intersection with county Highway S is scheduled to be replaced in the summer of 2016.
The Dunn County highway department held an informational meeting on the bridge replacement February 24 at the Grant Town Hall.
Replacing the bridge and resurfacing Highway W to state Highway 64 will be two separate projects, said Jesse Rintala, Dunn County director of public works.
Resurfacing Highway W will be completed during the first half of the construction season this year, he said.
The bridge replacement project will be funded through a federal program, said Dan Sydow, a structural engineer with Ayres Associates.
The federal government will pay 80 percent of the cost of replacing the bridge, and Dunn County will pay 20 percent. The bridge project is expected to cost $500,000, he said.
The Highway W bridge was built in 1934 or 1935 and must now be replaced because it is structurally deficient and functionally obsolete, Sydow said.
Bridge construction is expected to begin in August of 2016 and be completed in November of 2016, he said.
The bridge will be closed for three months, but the intersection with county Highway S will be open during construction, Sydow said.
The bridge will be moved slightly from its current location to smooth out the curve just before the bridge, and the grade will be increased by four feet to smooth out the drop to the bridge, he said.
When the bridge is finished, “there will be a gentler curve, and it will not dive down as far to the bridge,” Sydow said.
The Highway W bridge construction project must be coordinated with the state Department of Natural Resources, the federal Fish and Wildlife Service and the Army Corps of Engineers, he said.
A threatened bird species, the Red Shouldered Hawk, may be nesting near the bridge, and the DNR is requiring that no construction take place between March 15 to July 31 to allow the Red Shouldered Hawks to nest and fledge their young, Sydow said.
Dick Johnson, a Town of Grant resident, said the line of sight to the south of the bridge is not great.
“People drive 40 mph now (because of the road condition), but they will drive 70 mph when the road is better,” he said, noting that his son farms in the area and that they frequently move farm equipment around during the spring, summer and fall.
Although the 600 foot bridge project will not address the road to the south, the Dunn County highway department can look at it internally to see if more can be done for the road, Rintala said.
Putting in a new bridge starting in August of 2016 is the “best case scenario,” he said.
The project could get pushed out to 2017 or later, depending upon the availability of federal funding, Rintala said.
When the bridge is out, there will be two options for detours: county Highway M to Highway 64, or if the town board agrees, some of the town roads could be used for a detour, he said.
During the resurfacing of Highway W to Highway 64, the road will only be open to local traffic and will be closed to through traffic, Rintala said.
When Highway W to 64 is finished, the road will be 24 feet wide, and the shoulders will be three feet wide, he said.
Sydow wondered if closing the bridge during August, September and October would create significant problems for area residents.
“There is no really good time of the year (to have the bridge out),” Johnson said.