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Historic Spring Brook Bridge in Beaver Creek to be habilitated this year

Lead Summary
Lori Sorenson

Beaver Creek City Council members reviewed information at their March 8 meeting that puts wheels in motion to repair the historic bridge on Spring Brook Road on the northeast edge of town.
The Rock County Highway Department is facilitating the effort, which started over five years ago with a grant application to repair the historic bridge.
The engineer estimated the project would cost $208,393, but a Feb. 13 bid letting returned several bids significantly over that estimate.
The Rock County Board on March 7 accepted the low bid from Prahm Construction, Slayton, for $367,873, and agreed to cover the additional cost of the project.
Funds will come from the Local Bridge Replacement Program through the Motor Vehicle Leased Sales Tax.
As part of the funding agreement, the City of Beaver Creek will pay $10,000 for the project.
Construction will begin this fall, and the road will be closed for six weeks during that time.
For several years the bridge been showing signs of wear — cracking, pitting and some erosion underneath.
However, the concrete structure is on the list of historic bridges with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which means repairs are planned with an eye toward historic preservation.
A 2014 Historical Bridge Study of the Spring Brook Bridge found it to be “in fair condition overall,” but pointed out several deficiencies.
“The most significant defects include cracking and spalling of the wingwalls and headwalls, deterioration and undermining of the abutments, and erosion/exposure of the east bridge slopes,” the report stated.
In the spring of 2017, Beaver Creek received a $40,000 engineering grant from the Minnesota Historical Society because the bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1989.
Spring Brook Road, which becomes First Avenue as it enters town, was at one time a primary thoroughfare into Beaver Creek’s bustling downtown, which boasted several gas stations, a motel and other businesses.
Spring Brook Bridge was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 1989. Its builder, Perley Gillham, built dozens of bridges throughout various townships in southwest Minnesota.
Gillham was known for his unique concrete arch bridge designs.
According to MnDOT’s summary of the historical structure, the Spring Brook Bridge is a single-span, reinforced concrete, filled-spandrel, barrel-vaulted arch bridge, with slightly flared wingwall abutments.
It was constructed in 1911 by Perley N. Gillham, who designed and constructed reinforced-concrete arch bridges.
“Design and construction of reinforced-concrete arch span exemplifies Gillham’s style and construction method, such as the scribed line in the arch-ring edge, distinctive slab railing and decorative concrete molding along the lower edge of all coping,” the MnDOT site reads.
Rehabilitation won’t change Spring Brook Bridge’s current one-lane design.
When compared to today’s bridge standards, it would continue to be classified as “functionally obsolete,” a distinction it received in 1991.
Fewer than 100 vehicles travel the gravel road over the Spring Brook Bridge on a daily basis.
The bridge continues to be safe for use.

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