Changes made at contractor’s suggestion
By Don Nelson
Railings added on the south side approach to the Spring Creek Bridge in Winthrop have drawn critical comments from at least one town resident.
But the town’s public works director said the railings were added at the recommendation of the contractor that built the bridge, and work isn’t completed on welds that connect the railings to the bridge structure.
Peter Larsen, a Bridge Street resident, described the Spring Creek Bridge as an “iconic monument” in a letter to the town, and argued that the railings “defaced the original motif, design and engineering beauty” of the bridge, and would not weather to the same pattern as the existing bridge structure.
Larsen also criticized the welding connections, calling them “cobby, pitted and porous,” and likely prone to corrosion.
Larsen urged the town to “remove these modifications, repair the damage and restore the structural integrity and aesthetic vision that were so well achieved and executed.”
Public works director Rick Karro said the modifications were made at the recommendation of the bridge’s contractor because people have been making their way to the riverbank by sliding down either side of the paved path that leads to the bridge. That is causing erosion that will undermine the path, Karro said. The contractor inspects the bridge annually and suggested the railing to discourage such activity.
“We were told we needed to do something,” Karro said.
The sloping design of the rails is deliberate, Karro said, because there is no suitable place to plant railing posts alongside the path. In addition, he said, “we didn’t want it to stick out and hurt someone.”
As to the welds, Karro said they will be ground down and smoothed out.
Karro pointed to several other areas on the bridge that have uneven weathering, scratches, gouges or obvious welds.
Karro said he’s been told that there may be a geocaching location under the bridge approach, and that some people have probably been scrambling down the embankment to find it.
The bridge has a somewhat controversial history. When it was conceived and built, some residents said it was unnecessary, costly and unattractive. The bridge has become a heavily used connector between downtown Winthrop and the Winthrop Ice & Sports Rink area, as well as community trailheads.