Herald JournalHerald Journal, March 31, 2003

Commissioners wait for study to decide fate of popular old bridge

By Lynda Jensen

Before the cities of Waverly or Howard Lake existed, the stone arch bridge was quietly routing water just north of Waverly on the east side of Wright County Road 8.

Now, the fate of the popular old bridge may be in question, as Wright County Commissioners wait for a feasibility study from the Army Corps of Engineers related to the bridge.

The study will give a picture of storm water flow from Lake Ann to the Crow River by engineers, commented County Commissioner Dick Mattson.

The county is looking at the overall picture of storm water to determine what it should do with its system of culverts.

The bridge is being scrutinized because of the historical flooding that occurred last year ­ since some blamed it, and its culvert system, for its inability to handle the floodwaters.

The bridge is about 145 years old, according to Harold Reardon, 74, who was born and raised a quarter mile from the bridge.

The bridge, made of field stone and brick, stands on private property owned by Frank Perra, serving as his driveway.

It was originally constructed by a miller named Bonniwell, who was the mill operator at the grist mill located there, called Waverly Mills, Reardon said.

It was built when his great grandfather, John Reardon, was alive.

"I'd sure hate to see it go, but it's in tough shape," Reardon said.

Reardon predicted that taking down the bridge and changing the culvert system would actually do little to solve any problems.

Ed Perra, who owned the property where the stone arch bridge stands for 55 years, also commented that it was a landmark and beautiful structure, but perhaps it outlived its purpose.

Ed Perra sold the bridge last year to his son, Frank.

Its original construction was of field stone, with brick being added later in the 1930s, Reardon said.

The brick was added not so much because it needed it, but more likely because federal programs such as the CCC and WPA were looking for work to do, Reardon said.

The Wright County commissioners discussed the bridge at the Nov. 12 county commissioners meeting.

During that meeting, commissioner Jack Russek objected to the idea of demolishing the bridge, saying that people want to keep it. Russek represents the City of Waverly and Woodland Township,

Mattson represents Marysville Township, which is where the bridge is located.

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