MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Widespread flooding this spring has taken a toll on a historic landmark.

The Ramsey Park Swayback Bridge in Redwood Falls was damaged by a massive ice dam in March. Now, city leaders are looking at how to preserve it for the future.

“It’s got a lot of history, a lot of personal connection,” said Public Works Project Coordinator James Doering.

A link between two sides of town, the historic bridge is a special place for residents and tourists alike.

“It’s very pretty,” said tourist Debbie Oakes. “As soon as I saw it, I was like, ‘That is the bridge that is in the brochure, so we have to stop and take a look.’”

Built in 1938 by the Works Progress Administration, it has weathered its fair share of storms. The bridge is designed to withstand flooding, and this area has seen its fair share of high water in recent months. The bridge had to be shut down last year because it was completely covered in water.

“The flood waters, they are absolutely raging over the Swayback Bridge here,” Doering said.

After that summer flooding, this year’s spring thaw proved to be too much.

“It has withstood a lot of force that Mother Nature could give,” he said.

In March, a gigantic ice dam swept away part of the bridge down the Redwood River.

“It decided to show some of its age and give out about a 40-foot section of railing that we are looking to get replaced,” Doering said.

The replacement will not be cheap. The bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places, meaning it has to be fixed in a very particular way.

“We have to go out and find the exact quarry with the exact type of rock that was made,” Doering said.

Replacing that portion will cost just under $200,000. The city has applied for federal government funding to help ease the pocketbook pinch.

“On an annual basis, as it seems now we have been looking to FEMA to help us fund the repairs that we need from these disasters that have been happening,” he said.

This is one of only two swayback bridges in the country, and Doering believes the money is worth it to keep this historic landmark around for future generations to enjoy.

The city is in the process of taking bids for the construction work. This isn’t the first time this bridge has gotten a facelift. Redwood County restored it six years ago following flood damage.

Mary McGuire

Comments