History: Green Grove: Rural Bridge "Rustic Bridge" Altered
Contact: Crystal Wendt

----Sources: Scrap book one: by Elsa Lange Hardrath & Dorthaleen Edwards Hardrath

Contributed by Halbert "Bud" Hardrath


Town of Green Grove The bridges of Clark County may not be out in paperback yet, or in any form.

If there was a book to record the great bridges of the county, the old rustic wooden bridge on Robin Avenue, spanning the Wisconsin Central Limited Railroad tracks, would have a good chance to being included.

The rustic bridge is being lengthened to make room for two tracks beneath; part of a 2.6 mile bridge was disassembled in November and will be back in use sometime in late January or early February.

Wisconsin Central Limited is creating a side track because of a new agreement, side tracks would be eliminated in Marshfield as part of the Highway 13 project.

"To offset loss of that track, we are building a side track in Clark County," said Kurt Holman, WCL construction engineer.

Wisconsin Central Limited recently signed a contract with the Canadian Nation Railroad that committed the company to handle trains that are 9,000 feet long. Because of that length, it was necessary to create sidings that can handle trains of that length.

At the same time, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is planning to reroute Highway 13 through Marshfield where much of the existing railroad siding exists. This project would result in reduction of the number of slow-moving trains moving through the city of Marshfield where rail and road traffic has become congested.

The project begins at Popple River Road and extends northwest 2.6 miles to Highway N, at the unincorporated village of Atwood. The location is ideal, Holman said, because it is near where the track divides in Owen, with one track headed for the Twin Cities and the other toward Superior.

"The closer the passing lane is to a junction, the better," Holman said.

The extra lane will allow a train to pull aside and let an oncoming train pass.

For two tracks to pass beneath the bridge, the bridge needed to be lengthened. Several residents voiced concern about the project. They hoped to keep the bridge as original as possible, since it is a wooden structure, situated on a designated rustic road.

When the project was proposed, local hearings were held to inform residents. One of the concerns was the fate of the local historical bridge on Robin Avenue.

The bridge is on a designated "Rustic Road" and the residents didn’t want to part with its rustic beauty.

The railroad company and the residents reached an agreement: They would allow the lengthening of the bridge if the natural beauty would remain.

The old bridge had a definite arch, which makes it difficult for drivers approaching from one side of the bridge to see vehicles coming from the other side. The new construction-restoration will reduce some of that arch, making visibility somewhat better, although the width of the bridge will remain narrow. That makes meeting vehicles on the bridge a bit nerve wracking, Holman said.

Also, the existing railroad bed will need to be lowered, because the necessary clearance doesn’t exist between the top of the rails and the bottom of the bridge above. The bed will be lowered in the next couple of weeks.

Because some of the new siding will go through designated wetlands, and a total of 4.21 acres of wetlands in four sites would be affected, the railroad company is required to compensate for the loss.

The applicant has explored opportunities for on-site compensatory mitigation. Since none were promising, WCL proposes to purchase mitigation credits at the Walkerwin Wetland Bank in Columbia County.

[Photo caption - Wisconsin Central Limited railroad crew members work on the side track project near the Robin Avenue bridge in the Town of Green Grove. The rustic bridge is being reconstructed and lengthened by Lunda Construction, Black River Falls. Although the bridge is undergoing changes, the rustic appearance is being maintained.



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