Bridge, roundabout design come into focus


A better idea of just what the new bridge across the Crow River might look like when it’s done was presented during last week’s Watertown City Council meeting, and it certainly has a familiar look.

Based on feedback received from the City Council during two previous workshops to discuss the aesthetics of the new bridge and its associated roundabout, drawings show a proposed bridge that looks quite similar to both the current bridge across the river, as well as the current Highway 10 bridge over the Luce Line Trail.

The renderings showing the design of the proposed bridge are not final, but they are meant to provide a pretty good idea of what the project will look like. Smaller details — such as what materials to use for certain landscaping, or what types of trees to use  — can still be changed, but the major elements in the drawings approved by the Council last week will be incorporated into the final design.

In regards to the actual structure of the bridge, the Council had voiced a desire during one of the previous workshops to closely mimic the bridge over the Luce Line Trail, which is located just a bit southeast of the river bridge, so that there would be consistency between the two. With its proposed black metal railings with an arched look, light standards at each corner of the bridge, and concrete-encased pilings, the new bridge design looks not only like the bridge over the trail, but also much like the current bridge over the river.

The design for the roundabout includes numerous plantings and some sort of a monument in the center. The crosswalks at the intersection would likely be designed with some sort of decorative pavers as opposed to painted lines.

During a brief discussion of the roundabout landscaping, Councilor Steve Washburn noted that it might be nice to replace some of the plantings in the current plans with evergreen trees, especially because of their beauty in the winter.

“Those evergreens (in City Center Park) look so beautiful this time of year,” Washburn said. “Maybe we could change up some of the landscaping and do some spruce trees. Having the Christmas lights on there and seeing that as you come across the bridge, with all the snow on the trees, I think that would be a very welcoming environment.”

Details such as the type of trees or plantings to include in the roundabout are the types of details that can still be changed. So too is the decision as to what the monument at the center of the roundabout should look like. The current drawings include an art-deco monument, something Washburn said he favored, but Mayor Charlotte Johnson isn’t as keen on the idea.

“Art deco, I don’t know if that’s really Watertown,” she said while voicing her preference for something with more historical significance.

Johnson said she would prefer to see something along the lines of a statue of a person holding an old-fashioned lantern. Johnson, the former president of the Watertown Area Historical Society, said early settlers in the area used lanterns with candles on their porch to welcome visitors to Watertown, and to help people find their homes.

“Rick Johnson Park has historical signs, so I think it’s fitting to have something in the center that is historical,” Johnson said.

The Council was originally presented with three price-range options for aesthetic elements for both the bridge and roundabout, with options including, low, mid-range and high-end choices. Most of the aesthetic choices the Council made fall in the mid-range price category.

However, even those mid-range choices add up to an additional $350,000 in expenses. As part of the Joint Powers Agreement with Carver County, the city is responsible for 100 percent of the aesthetic improvements to the bridge that are above and beyond the County’s basic design, and almost all of the landscaping costs as well.

“Three-hundred and fifty thousand is a big number… but we didn’t pick high end stuff,” Councilor Adam Pawelk said during the meeting. “We picked stuff in the middle of the road. Some of the lower end options were pretty basic and standard. I don’t think anybody would have been pleased. I understand it’s a road, it’s a bridge, and the function is to get cars across, but this Council has always stated we want to make sure it looks nice.”

Councilor Mike Walters pointed out that while it is a bridge, it is also a focal point of the city, located right in the center of town, and Washburn also said it was important to make the bridge look aesthetically pleasing without going overboard on costs.

“We tried to make it look nice,” he said. “We’ve tried to stay in the middle of the road so nothing is gold-plated or anything like that, but it adds up pretty fast.”


Contact Matt Bunke at [email protected]