Nelson Family Heritage Crossing
2022 Engineering Excellence State Finalist
Entering Firm: GRAEF
Clients: City of Kaukauna & Village of Little Chute
The Fox River is an incredible natural resource. Communities adjacent to the river have used it for economic and entertainment purposes for decades and have continually redeveloped their infrastructure around it. Currently, there is an extensive path system near the river and an active lock system, but many paths were inaccessible to each other without this crossing.
GRAEF’s primary mission was to develop a bike/pedestrian bridge to connect three miles of paths to the broader network. First, the team worked with the Coast Guard to maintain navigation on the river. To accomplish this, the distance between supports on the bridge was expanded. The increased distance required reinforced, strong materials that would be able to support the spans above.
The design team overcame difficult soils and river hydraulics as well. To properly reinforce the structure, the team anchored the midpoint at a small island in the river. The design team worked carefully around unstable soils and shallow bedrock. Acquisition of a nearby railroad bridge allowed the path to use a shorter route which avoided questionable soils and saved over $100,000.
Many segments of this path system were previously inaccessible to the public. With the new bridge, these paths are now part of a 13-mile network around the Fox River, benefitting visitors and residents of the surrounding communities.