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The public came out to the grand opening celebration Thursday of the reopening of the Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge in Chippewa Falls.

CHIPPEWA FALLS — Chippewa Falls officials were awarded Tuesday for the work in restoring the Marsh Rainbow Arch Bridge on Spring Street in summer 2016.

Dave Pantzlaff of engineering firm Ayres Associates presented the city with the 2018 Engineering Excellence State Finalist Award.

“The award was given by the American Council of Engineering Companies of Wisconsin, and was a finalist among a variety of projects ranging from a Madison utility dual zone water tower reservoir to a Madison storm water operations to an Appleton park and outdoor aquatics center,” a city document states.

The city approved an agreement with the state’s Department of Transportation in April 2016 to rehabilitate the bridge at a cost of $841,000. Federal and state dollars covered $672,000 of the work, with the city paying the remaining $168,000. The work was done throughout that summer.

The bridge crosses Duncan Creek. As part of the project, a “fiber-wrap” reinforcement coating was applied to the bridge. Also, more beams were added to support the century-old structure, which is steel encased in concrete.

“The project extended the life and dependability of this locally beloved structure, while maintaining its unique attributes,” the award states.

The historic bridge, which was constructed in 1916, is displayed in the city’s logo, and it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1982. It is one of the only remaining marsh arch-type bridges in the Midwest and the last one in Wisconsin. The bridge already has a posted weight limit of 40 tons. Since the project was completed, only westbound traffic is allowed to cross the bridge, cutting down on its daily usage.

The city had considered closing the bridge to traffic entirely and leaving it open for pedestrians only. However, Ayres officials told the city in 2011 that by leaving the bridge open for motorized traffic it qualified for the state to pay 80 percent of the cost for upgrades on it.

City engineer Rick Rubenzer said reaction at public hearings in recent years indicated 70 percent of residents wanted the bridge saved and left in place.

The bridge is anticipated to last perhaps another two decades, city documents say.

“Like it or not, that is the identity of Chippewa Falls,” Mayor Greg Hoffman said.

Contact: chris.vetter@ecpc.com