The long-awaited project to replace the bridge over the Turkey River at Motor Mill has begun! Crews from Minnowa Construction, of Harmony, Minn., started work at the site on October 11.
The first phase is to build a temporary cofferdam to protect the century-old center pier during repairs. The historic pier will be used for the new bridge. Contractors also are repairing abutments on each side of the river. Concrete caps – formed to look like the original limestone structures – will raise the new bridge from two to four feet above the level of the old bridge, which was built in 1895.
When the piers and abutments have been stabilized, workers will assemble the steel spans of the bridge on land, then lift the spans with cranes and set them atop the bases. The final steps are to install the bridge deck, and to grade the approaches to the bridge. Work is scheduled to be done in early December.
The bridge will be open to traffic, with some weight and length restrictions. The Motor Mill Foundation and the Clayton County Board of Supervisors are discussing measures to assure the safety of pedestrians around the Mill site.
The south span of the old bridge washed out in the flood of 1991, while the north span was destroyed by the 2008 flood. Following the 2008 disaster, the Clayton County Conservation Board, which owns the Motor Mill historic site, worked with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to get partial funding to replace the bridge. Tim Engelhardt, director of the Conservation Board, also secured several other grants to help with the $900,000 project. The Motor Mill Foundation is in the midst of a capital fund drive for the bridge construction and continuing renovation work at Motor.
The Foundation is holding a raffle for the privilege of being the first person to cross the new Motor Mill bridge during its official opening. Tickets cost $50. For details, call 563-245-1516, or visit www.motormill.org.