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Fox Point footbridge finally comes down

Friends group passes halfway mark on fundraising

A contractor cuts through a footbridge support with a blowtorch.

A contractor cuts through a footbridge support with a blowtorch.

Aug. 20, 2013

Fox Point — After more than 100 years spanning the ravine between Bridge and Barnett lanes, the storied, picturesque, and more recently, controversial footbridge has been demolished.

On Aug. 15, crews stripped the bridge to a skeleton, removing the planks one by one from the Bridge Lane side to the Barnett Lane side before removing the railings and fencing. A combination of age — in some places iron supports were rusted almost completely through — and the predemolition deconstruction made the bridge a precarious perch, Public Works Director Scott Brandmeier said.

"The planks and the railing and fence provided a little more rigidity to the structure," Brandmeier said. "As it was being removed it became clear to us the level of deterioration was significant. You could feel the structure wobble. I could feel it move with every step I took."

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Having cut through key supports with blowtorches, the demolition crew gave the structure a strong yank on either end and the century-old footbridge went toppling down into the ravine.

"It's definitely a sad day," Footbridge Friends, Inc. president Barbara Schwartz said Friday. "This bridge has been a part of so many lives for so many decades. It was a real emotional tug on the heart to see it come down."

For an estimated two weeks, crews will go down into the ravine to cut out and retrieve sections of the structure for removal. Once the entire bridge is removed they will restore the surrounding vegetation and put fencing at the abutments, which mark the ends of the demolished footbridge. The abutments will prevent erosion, stabilize the slope, and could someday form the foundation of a rebuilt footbridge.

Meanwhile, Schwartz and others at Footbridge Friends, the non-profit group tasked with fundraising for a reconstruction of the bridge, have recently passed the halfway mark toward their $655,000 goal.

"We're just under $360,000 in pledges and gifts," Schwartz said. "We keep plugging along. A day doesn't go by that we aren't getting something in the mail or through PayPal."

Schwartz said there are two fundraising events scheduled for this week and two scheduled for September. She encourages anyone interested in donating to contact her at footbridgefriends@hotmail.com or send pledge cards to 7239 N. Barnett Lane.

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