CHIPPEWA FALLS — Three aging bridges on the ski and running trails in Irvine Park will be replaced next week at a cost of about $40,000, said Chippewa Falls parks director Dick Hebert.
Two of the bridges, each measuring 28 feet long by 10 feet wide, cross a ravine on the unpaved trails in the northwest corner of the park. Another 24-by-10-foot bridge is located near the old schoolhouse in the center of the park. Hebert said in fall 2015 it was his goal to have them replaced the following year. The plan was to have park staff build the bridges, but they ran into roadblocks, causing the delay.
“It’s challenging building bridges and installing them in the woods,” Hebert said. “If it’s wet, it can be muddy. And they are hard to get to.”
The Parks Department decided to hire a private contractor to do the work at roughly $13,000 per bridge, he said. The money will come from the Irvine Park Endowment Fund.
“They will be installed, starting next week, and it should take two weeks,” he said. “My goal was to have this done before winter so the bridges are in use for cross-country skiing.”
For the past two years, wooden-horse barricades were placed in front of the bridges that crossed the ravine to keep people off them. Those bridges have now been removed entirely, he said. Last year, skiers had to leave the trail entirely and cross on the paved streets, which could cause scratches to their skis, Hebert said.
The bridges were likely 20 years old and had reached the end of their life expectancy, he said.
The Fall Frolic, a 5K race set for Saturday that traditionally goes through the trails and uses those bridges, will be held on the paved roads in the park instead, said race organizer Marty Bushland. The race is a fundraiser for the McDonell boys and girls cross country teams.
Along with those three smaller bridges, the “rumbly bridge” in the northern end of the park also needs some work. The rumbly bridge, constructed in 1907, has been closed to motorized traffic since 1981.
The parrots, Watusi cows and antelope left the park on Wednesday. The animals typically arrive in the park in late April or early May and leave for the winter. The parrots, in particular, struggle with the cool overnight temperatures, he said.
The petting zoo, which features a horse, a donkey, sheep, goats, pigs and chickens, closed right after Labor Day.
“There are a lot of animals still here throughout the winter,” Hebert said.