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Greenwood Black River bridge to be replaced in 2023

An historic overhead steel truss bridge that has carried traffic over the Black River at Greenwood for more than 80 years will be replaced during the 2023 construction season. In its place will be a wider, longer concrete span that is expected to cost $2.8 million.

Clark County Highway Commissioner Brian Duell said the county and state Department of Transportation have begun the several-year process of engineering and building a new bridge to carry traffic over the Black River on County Road G. The state will fund 80 percent of the project costs, with Clark County to absorb the rest, at approximately $560,000. Since the span is located on a county road, and not a city street, the city of Greenwood will bear no financial burden for the project.

The Black River bridge was built in 1938, and 50 years later saw a deck replacement and painting work. After more than eight decades, Duell said, the structure’s steel is now starting to show its age with wear and rust. Plus, he said, the bridge’s 13’ 6” clearance height has been creating problems for years, with numerous trucks and farm equipment pieces striking the bridge’s overhead supports.

That will no longer be an issue, as the new bridge will be of concrete structure and not overhead steel. The days of overhead bridges are mostly gone, Duell said, and the Black River span at Greenwood is Clark County’s last one.

The current bridge is 286 feet long, while the new span is estimated at 325 feet. The extra length, Duell said, will allow the abutments on both sides to be located out of the water during low river flows. That is not the case now.

The new bridge deck will also be wider. The current one is 24 feet wide from inside rail to rail, while the new one will be 34 feet. The driving lanes will be slightly wider, and there will be a 3-4-foot space between the white traffic line and the bridge side. That will not be considered a walking or biking lane, but will allow extra space for pedestrians that may walk across it. If the bridge would have been widened for pedestrian traffic, that additional cost would have been entirely the city’s, and Duell said city officials decided not to add the expense.

Design and engineering work for the project is expected to occur in 2022, with actual construction in 2023. The passage between Greenwood and the rural area to the west will be closed for several months during the project.

Duell said the county worked with the state to schedule the bridge job for 2023. That will allow it to avoid having multiple major projects in any given summer. The county is already planning for reconstruction of Highway 98 between Loyal and Spencer next summer, Farm Technology Days traffic management in 2022, reconstruction of Highway 73 from Greenwood to Owen in 2024, and replacement of the often-flooded County Road M bridge west of Mead Lake in 2025.