The Illinois Department of Natural Resources and the Illinois Capital Development Board are pleased to announce the completion of a new bridge at Frank Holten State Park. The bridge crosses over Whispering Willow Lake near the Grand Marais Golf Course Clubhouse. In addition to the golf course and associated restaurant, the bridge is used by site visitors and site staff who work at the site office and maintenance shed. The bridge also provides access to numerous day use areas and picnic shelters located within Frank Holten State Park.
The new bridge was designed by Coombe-Bloxdorf, P.C. of Springfield, Illinois. Mr. Fred Coombe was the project engineer. The general contractor was Illinois Excavators, Inc. of Ruma, Illinois. Mr. Larry Dunn was the project manager. The bridge was officially opened to traffic on May 6, 2004. The previous bridge over Whispering Willow Lake was constructed around 1940. Over the last 10 years, IDNR Division of Engineering has documented severe deterioration of the substructure, particularly near the water's surface. In addition, erosion was occurring at both ends of the bridge. Regular site visitors knew to drive slowly over the old bridge to minimize the “bump” at each end.
IDNR began construction of the $700,000 project in November, 2003 and work continued as much as possible throughout the winter. This schedule was adopted to minimize the interference with the Grand Marais Golf course. The contractor and design engineer worked very hard to stay on schedule.
The new bridge is supported on 28 concrete piers which are buried approximately 35 feet into the ground. Ten (10) pre-cast, pre-stressed concrete bridge beams span approximately 65 ft. over the water. The bridge has a road width of 28 ft. In addition, there is a 5 ft. wide raised sidewalk on both sides of the roadway for pedestrian traffic. The surface of the bridge includes concrete pilasters which resemble the concrete guard railing on the original bridge. Horizontal aluminum railing is used to protect pedestrians along the two sidewalks. The clearance between the bridge beams and Whispering Willow Lake is approximately 10 ft. This distance is necessary for boat clearance which will pass underneath the bridge. Two (2) gravel walkways were designed under the new bridge. These walkways are very popular with local fishing enthusiasts.
The new bridge is a wonderful addition to Frank Holten State Park. It will hopefully be used by site visitors for many decades.