The City of Eau Claire hired Ayres to provide structural engineering design services for the replacement of the deck of the Grand Avenue pedestrian bridge over the Chippewa River. The 100% City-funded project was about much more than the rehabilitation of a downtown pedestrian link over the river. It was an opportunity to save significant money through innovation. And our designers helped the bridge to visually fit into the City’s evolving vibe and accentuated its role as an event venue.
The American Council of Engineering Companies of Wisconsin awarded the project a 2020 Best of State Award.
The substructure and steel girders of the bridge remain in good condition and did not need replacement. Minor maintenance of the substructure was required. The bearings needed replacement, and the end 10 feet of the girders needed painting. The bridge deck had deteriorated and needed replacement. The new bridge deck includes overlooks at all pier locations, a wider deck, decorative railing matching the railing present in downtown, and decorative lighting. The overlooks have a substructure that complements the historic look of the piers upon which they were built.
Ayres relied on innovative, non-standard analysis to determine the feasibility of widening the bridge deck as the City desired. Based on its evaluation of strength and vibration performance, Ayres ultimately expanded the new deck to a width of 12 feet as the City had hoped, designing it to rest safely on the bridge’s over-100-year-old limestone piers and its 40-year-old steel girders.
Reuse of these elements saved the City significant costs on the $1.8 million project and provided the community with a legacy example of how old and new can be successfully blended. With a wider resurfaced deck, decorative railings, overhead/underdeck lighting, and six overlooks, the bridge is now equipped to serve not only as a means to cross the Chippewa River, but also as an event site and a place to pause – a vantage point from which to appreciate downtown Eau Claire.
Services included agency and utility coordination; public involvement; development of preliminary and final design; creation of renderings; and plans, specifications, and estimates.