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Want a historic steel truss bridge for free? Wisconsin's giving away 3

There's a catch (or two), of course.

If you're in the market for a steel truss bridge, Wisconsin has a heck of a deal for you.

The state's Department of Transportation (WisDOT) has announced it's giving away three historic steel truss bridges — yes, for free — along state highway 130, with the aim of "relocation, rehabilitation, and preservation."

Two of the bridges date back to 1932, while the other was built in the early 1940s. Here's a little bit more about them in this news release from WisDOT:

The bridges include a 4-span, riveted steel overhead truss bridge (constructed in 1932 and measuring approximately 550 feet in length); a single-span, riveted steel deck truss bridge (constructed in 1932 and measuring approximately 80 feet in length); and a 3-span, riveted steel overhead truss bridge (constructed in 1942-1943 and measuring approximately 640 feet in length).

They're located in the towns of Buena Vista (Richland County), Spring Green (Sauk County) and Clyde (Iowa County). All are scheduled to be replaced by new bridges in 2024, according to a Facebook post from WisDOT

Though the old ones are yours for the taking, there are some conditions as well as a possible catch or two. The new owner must move the bridges from their current locations, and "be willing to preserve the structures’ historic integrity."

Further, the new owner "must agree" to relocate the bridges to a "suitable site" and "assume all legal and financial obligations associated with this endeavor."

The agency also notes that "additional costs may be incurred by the recipient in preparing a new site and rehabilitating the bridges."

Still interested? Then the next step is requesting an information packet from WisDOT — which includes all of the following:

Photos and descriptions of the subject bridges, recipient responsibilities, WisDOT contribution estimates, a sample Acceptance and Maintenance Agreement, a schedule for receiving and reviewing offers, proposal requirements, and WisDOT construction schedule.

Instructions for requesting an information packet can be found right here, but the clock is ticking. WisDOT says no requests will be accepted after October 31, 2021.

So, you might be wondering... what exactly does one do with a historic steel truss bridge, anyway? Bach Steel, a Michigan firm specializing in such projects, happens to have a few ideas.

According to the company's blog, recipients of decommissioned bridges — which routinely become available across the country — have found a wide variety of uses for them, including "pedestrian or light vehicular bridges... trails, bike paths, parks, residential developments, golf courses, and even low volume public roads."

For an in-depth exploration on how historic bridges find second lives, you can check out the rest of the article right here. 

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