Archive for Thursday, December 21, 2006

Work begins on restoration of Women’s Bridge

December 21, 2006

Work began in earnest this week on the restoration of the historic "Women's Bridge."

Motorists discovered that the hard way when 11th Street was closed for a while this week. Road closures on 11th, as well as High Street from 11th to 10th Street will be periodic during the reconstruction, said City Administrator Jeff Dingman.

"It's not a permanent thing yet," Dingman said of the closures. "So far, they're just closing it when they need to. Yesterday (Monday) they were boring under the road, so needed to keep traffic off of it."

He said he'd announce the time line on street closures when more information is available. In the meantime, motorists need to be aware that 11th Street and High Street may be closed during stretches of the next three months or so. When High Street is closed, heavy trucks -- including fire trucks -- will only have access to West Baldwin via U.S. Highway 56. The bridge on Grove Street has weight limitations which do not allow truck traffic.

The current work involves moving a water line in preparation for the work on the bridge, which was built in the 1800s by an all woman city council. The Kansas Department of Transportation awarded the city a $1.2 million grant to cover 80 percent of the project. The city is responsible for the remaining 20 percent.

Despite a current rumor floating around Baldwin, the project is to restore the bridge, not remove it. That's why KDOT funded the project.

"When the project on the bridge gets going, a restoration contractor will be removing, cleaning, repairing and replacing as needed the existing rock and brick in the structure," said Dingman. "It will be completely straightened and restored, and then a new surface, sidewalk and fence placed on the bridge."

Another part of the project will help people learn more about the bridge, which has mostly been hidden by brush and other debris for years. Not everyone in Baldwin knows about the historic structure.

"There will also be a sidewalk from the road level down to the base of the bridge with a historical marker there explaining the history of the bridge," he said. "That will be on the park side."

There is a park, which includes a basketball court, on the south side of High Street.

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