CHIPPEWA COUNTY, Wis. (WLAX/WEUX) – The more than a century-old Cobban Bridge sits on the Chippewa River in Chippewa County. In 2017, Chippewa County closed it due to safety concerns. After years of planning, a more modern multi-dollar structure is set to replace Cobban Bridge.
“It’ll be a little different and more modern than the structure that’s there now,” Wisconsin Department of Transportation Project Engineer Keena Spencer-Dobson said.
The Cobban Bridge Replacement Project began construction on Monday.
“We’re building a new structure so that people can again cross the river at this location,” Spencer-Dobson said.
Spencer-Dobson says the construction costs come in at about $4.7 million.
“It’s joint funded between the Wisconsin D.O.T. and Chippewa County,” Spencer-Dobson said.
Cobban bridge was first built in 1908 and was later reconstructed at its current location.
“The structure is over 100 years old,” Chippewa County Highway Department Project Manager Fred Anderson said. “It’s narrow, it can only handle very limited loads, it’s a single lane and it’s got, you know, height restriction. So it can’t handle, you know, the modern traffic.”
The new bridge will be over 500 feet long, over 28 feet wide, and have four pillars and two traffic lanes instead of one.
Anderson says turning the bridge into a walking trail was considered, but ultimately it was decided to keep it as a traffic crossing.
“We’re quite a ways down the road to the south and to the north to get across the river,” Anderson said. “So it’ll be nice for locals to be able to get back across the river here.”
Even though the old structure is set to be demolished, Anderson says steps are being taken to keep the history of Cobban Bridge alive.
“One of those being the Chippewa County Historical Society. So, parts of the bridge will still be able to be seen in their new building,” Anderson said. “Third is permanent historic panels, displays, which are going to be right behind me next to the old one.”
Demolition of the existing Cobban Bridge is planned for next week. The completion of the project is slated for October 2023.
For information on road closures and other traffic impacts, click here.