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Hit the Trail Again: E.C.’s High Bridge Reopens

multimillion-dollar repairs complete on historic span

V1 Staff, photos by Andrea Paulseth |

UNTROUBLED BRIDGE OVER UNTROUBLED WATERS. Eau Claire's High Bridge is once again open to the public.
UNTROUBLED BRIDGE OVER UNTROUBLED WATERS. Eau Claire's High Bridge is once again open to the public.

Good news to walkers, runners, bikers, strollers, and all other pedestrians: The High Bridge spanning the Chippewa River in downtown Eau Claire has officially reopened nine months after it was closed because of serious structural problems. 

The City of Eau Claire announced Wednesday afternoon that the 141-year-old bridge was ready for (foot) traffic. “Enjoy the beautiful spring weather by taking a stroll on our trails and across one of the most scenic spots in Eau Claire,” the city said in a Facebook post.

The bridge was closed in June 2021 when cracks were found in a bridge deck and one of the limestone piers. Repairs were estimated to cost $3 million, and in February the City Council voted to shift an additional $400,000 in the city budget to complete repairs. 

The 80-foot-high bridge was built in 1881 as a railroad bridge and served that purpose until the 1990s. It reopened as part of the city’s extensive trail system in 2015.

The city is planning a ribbon-cutting on Monday, March 28, to celebrate the reopening. Here are the details:

High Bridge Reopening Ribbon Cutting

Please join us as we celebrate the reopening of the historic High Bridge with a Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony on Monday, March 28, 2022 at 11 a.m., at the west entrance of the High Bridge, near First Street.

The historic High Bridge, which serves as a scenic pedestrian trail crossing the Chippewa River, was initially closed to the public on June 21, 2021 after a tree limb damaged a railing during a storm. Over the following days, additional changes in the condition of the bridge were observed, making repair an urgent situation.

In July of 2021 the Eau Claire City Council unanimously approved a resolution authorizing Interim City Manager Dave Solberg to enter into an emergency agreement for repair of the High Bridge. The resolution was introduced to the Council by Leah Ness, Interim Engineering Director for the City. Kraemer North America, Haas Construction, and Ayres Associates immediately began work to stabilize and save the bridge.

The first railroad bridge in that spot was built in 1872, the year Eau Claire officially became a City. However, the original wooden deck truss bridge couldn’t sustain the amount of traffic seen by our growing city and, in 1880, work began on the High Bridge as we know her today. The bridge is considered to be of national importance – its main truss spans are believed to be the only remaining example of quintuple intersection lattice deck trusses in the country.

Eau Claire has become known as the City of Bridges, and the City places great value on them, not only as a part of our living history and culture, but as a daily part of people’s leisure, health, and transportation plans.