Traffic stopped briefly Wednesday on Ring Road in Elizabethtown as the arrival of a new bridge for the north end of Freeman Lake Park arrived.
In a coordinated effort by a crew from Scott and Murphy from Bowling Green, the 56-foot long structure was carefully moved about a quarter mile down a trail path by a trackho and frontloader tractor then lifted into place with assistance from a crane.
The bridge is being installed across Christopher Miller Creek on Freeman Lake Trail. It replaces the wooden Mary Cofer Trigg Bridge that once stood in its place.
“The bridge that was here was built by the Boy Scouts (Troop 221) in the ’80s and it was a wooden bridge that was beyond repair,” Elizabethtown Facilities Director Scott Reynolds said. “It got to the point that it was just easier to replace it.”
The bridge, trail and access to the creek has been closed since August.
“It was very unsafe,” Reynolds said. “That’s why we had it torn down as quick as we could to try to close it off to keep people from walking across it.”
The newly installed bridge, which is 11-feet, 5-inches wide with an inside width of 10-feet, was brought down a rock path created for construction equipment to access the area.
Reynolds said the construction access will be become a new paved trail to the bridge.
The city also budgeted to extend the parking area on the north end of the park to access the new trail. New restroom facilities also are planned. That part of the project is expected to begin in the spring, Reynolds said.
In June, city council approved the bridge replacement project, which Reynolds said has cost $158,851 to include all concrete, construction of the bridge and clearing trees to create the construction access.
A $50,000 grant to Greenspace from the Elizabethtown Tourism and Convention Bureau is helping foot the bill.
The bridge is weathering steel, meaning it’s corrosion resistant and won’t need to be painted to be maintained. It eventually will have a rustic look, Reynolds said.
The metal truss bridge is similar to the two installed a couple years ago near holding ponds at the north end of Freeman Lake.
“It was going to have to be replaced and we had this bridge already designed for the area,” Reynolds said. “This bridge actually was going to be replaced when we did the other two, but the money we had at the time budgeted; we could only do those two.”
The structures are part of the Bridges to Nature project, a collective effort between Greenspace, Elizabethtown government and the tourism bureau.
Reynolds said the new bridge installation is expected to be completed in about three and a half weeks, depending on weather, as crews tie the bridge in and complete concrete work.
Gina Clear can be reached at 270-505-1418 or firstname.lastname@example.org.