19.1.18

DURABLE INFRASTRUCTURE.

I can't claim to have invented rails-to-trails, let alone to have been an advocate, and yet one of the large culverts on the Hales Corners branch that I made a few unauthorized trips across only recently had to be removed.
The span that went down was the 1905 Milwaukee Light, Heat & Traction (MLH&T) spandrel-arch bridge over the Root River, near 98th Street and Layton Avenue.

The last railroad car crossed the venerable bridge on June 30, 1951. It was Speedrail Car 63 heading in from Hales Corners.

Over the 66 years since then, the bridge has shown its age to the point of being a danger to bicyclists and even walkers crossing its span.

Efforts were made to save and rehabilitate the bridge. Owner We Energies offered to donate it to anyone willing to preserve it. But no one came forward.
A concrete arch is difficult to dismantle and relocate. Some of that right of way is still a service drive for the Power Company, which is why I used that "unauthorized trip" locution. Whatever replaces the bridge might be safer, but it will lack the character.

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