Historic Cobban Bridge to be Given Away for Relocation: Any Takers

112-year old historic bridge to be given away- but must be relocated.

JIM FALLS/ CHIPPEWA FALLS/ CORNEL, WISCONSIN- In connection with the forthcoming bridge replacement project, officials of Chippewa County, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT), and the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) are giving away a historic bridge that was once part of Wisconsin’s heritage but is in need of a new home. Between now and October 9th, bids are being taken to adopt the historic Cobban Truss Bridge, spanning the Chippewa River between Cornell and Jim Falls.

The bridge features two identical Pennsylvania through truss spans- each with spans of 241 feet. The connections are pinned, the portal bracings are 3-rhombus Howe lattice with angled heels and the bracings are V-laced. It is the last Pennsylvania truss bridge remaining in Wisconsin and the last two-span bridge of the above-mentioned type in the United States. It is eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. Furthermore, the bridge won the 2017 Ammann Awards in the category Bridge of the Year. The Cobban Bridge was built in 1908 but was relocated here in 1916. A detailed story about the bridge and its current situation, written by the author, can be found here.

County Officials, SHPO and WisDOT are willing to give away the bridge- either one or both spans- for free. The catch: The bridge must be relocated to a new home and most importantly, the historic integrity of the structure must be maintained at its new home. The offer for adoption is available to all interested parties, including private citizens, nonprofit groups or local units of government. Proposals must be made to the SHPO and WisDOT but they must follow guidelines specified in an information packet that is available by contacting Matt Thornsen at WisDOT.

Requests for information packets must be submitted by no later than October 9. Requests submitted after that date will not be considered. Proposals will be due 60 days from the receipt of the information packet. The recipient of the Cobban Bridge must agree to relocate the structure to a suitable location and assume all future legal and financial responsibility for it. The reason: work to replace the bridge with a new structure at its original location is scheduled to begin in 2022 with a new structure set to open by 2023.

Work and repairs on bridges eligible for the National Register of Historic Places must be made according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation and Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings and are subject to approval and review by WisDOT and the SHPO. Proposals will be selected based on the feasibility of the relocation and funding plan. Grants are available for the bridge if needed. Ownership of the bridge will be transferred at no cost after review and approval.

If you are interested in adopting the bridge and have a new home for the structure, please contact Matt Thornsen at WisDOT, using the following contact details below:

Wisconsin DOT c/o Matthew Thornsen

718 W. Clairemont Ave.

Eau Claire, WI, 54701

E-mail is also acceptable and the address:

E-mail: matthew.thornsen@dot.wi.gov.

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