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Historic Rumbly Bridge in need of repairs

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Dick Hebert recalls how when he was a child his family would go to Irvine Park every Sunday after church. The tradition included playing on the playground visiting the animals and a drive across the Rumbly Bridge.

But the Chippewa Falls Parks and Recreation Director isn’t the only one with memories of that bridge.

“It’s got a lot of history,” Hebert said. “It means a lot to a lot of people.”

There have even been weddings on the bridge.

Now the 108-year-old structure is in need of repairs, but fans of the bridge shouldn’t worry: it’s not going anywhere.

“We’re not replacing it,” Hebert said. “We’re hopefully going to give it a makeover.”

Hebert said his department is going to be pursuing Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources grants to make to make the necessary repairs.

The bridge’s metal frame needs to be sandblasted and then repainted. The bridge also needs new decking. Parks Department crews have already patched the bridge deck with material usually used to construct skateboard ramps. Frequent users of the bridge might recognize this as the large black square on in the middle of the bridge.

Some of the footings that support the bridge need work too.

At this point Hebert doesn’t have an estimate of how much the Rumbly Bridge repairs will cost or when the work will be done.

In the meantime the bridge is still open to foot traffic — it’s been closed to vehicle traffic since 1981.

“The Rumbly Bridge is still structurally sound,” Hebert said.

Wooden bridges to be replaced

Heavy fall rains damaged a trio of wooden bridges on the cross country ski trail in Irvine Park and now the bridges need to be replaced.

One bridge is just to the north of the school house and the other two cross a ravine about one hundred yards north of the Rumbly Bridge.

The bridge near the school house was moved three feet by rain. Park employees put the bridge back into place and raised it up. For the time being that bridge is safe and remains open.

“We’re hoping to get another year or two out of that bridge,” Hebert said.

The other bridges, while still standing, have been closed. Barriers have been set up on either end of the pair which stand one after the other on the same trail. The bridges are 10 feet wide and 28 feet long.

“Those two bridges have sunken and need to be replaced,” Hebert said.

Hebert hopes that community members will step forward with donations of either money or necessary materials over the course of this winter to replace the bridges. The goal is to have park employees construct the bridges next spring.

In the meantime the trails will remain open. Come winter a ski trail will be groomed along a stretch of road in the park that bypasses the bridges.

Anyone interested in making a donation should contact the Chippewa Falls Parks and Recreation department by calling 723-0051.

The cost of replacing the bridges is estimated at about $50,000.

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