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1931: New River grading cleans up area around bridge

Bits by Betty
Lead Summary
Betty Mann, President, Rock County Historical Society

The following appeared in the Rock County Herald on October 16, 1931, and is the third in a series about Luverne's Rock River bridge.
Senator Schall, after a bried statement concerning good roads, gave a political speech lasting an hour and a half. The following is the second part of this speech.
As originally surveyed by the highway engineers, a strip of approximately one-eighth of an acre extending westward to a sharp point, was left between the old and the new trunk highway routes, but before the grading of the new route had progressed too far, the highway department deemed it advisable to secure this narrow strip of land through condemnation proceedings. Although the owner, E. Top, had just finished refencing the small area, the enclosure was removed the last week so that the road graders would fill the depression that it enclosed.
This ditch was obstructed somewhat with a growth of less desirable trees and these were easily yanked out by the caterpillar tractors, and in place of the growths and the ditch a nice, smooth surface is now presented and makes a natural parking place for motorists, with their cars facing the park from the north.
At its widest point this parking space and driveway will be approximately 150 feet, which is immediately west of the main approaches to the park and the new highway from the river road. At the extreme east end of this driveway, in front of the old power house, the available space is probably less than seventy-five feet, but the high, well finished grade, together with the massive Rock river bridge, furnishes a natural, pleasing enclosure for the park area.
Taking advantage of conditions as they develop, Alderman Frank Peschon who is chairman of the park board, caused a dam to be installed last week at the north edge of the temporary bridge erected south of the new bridge, and as a result of this the water level in the lagoon on the north side of the grade was raised fully two feet by the following morning. One of the advantages of this dam is that it did not cost the city anything, for steel girders from the old bridge and voluntary labor from spectators completed the 60-ft. wide retaining wall within a short time and this can be widened as requirements necessitate. Piling for the temporary bridge serves to retain the dam and when this bridge is removed the north line of piling will be sawed off to conform with the spillway requirements.
Adequate facilities for lighting the big new bridge were provided by the construction engineers and the bridge itself has a wide walk for pedestrians along the south side, with a ramp leading to the park area on that side, so that those who walk to the park do no add to traffic complications on the bridge or at either approach.
In order to eliminate the grade crossing menace over the Rock Island, the grade is quite high in front of the municipal light and power plant, but this has a concrete retaining wall on the north side. While quite a little trouble is expected from the wind carrying dust into the power plant when it blows from the south or southwest, as soon as this highway is paved, much of this inconvenience will be eliminated.
The new grade also makes possible a marked improvement in the driveway area in front and along the east side of the Mannigel-Rathjen Grain company plant, and while it steepens off the old entrance to the Moi small acreage place south and west of the park, this situation has been met by provisions for the erection of a small bridge over Rock river leading direct from the Moi place into the park in quite direct line with the roadway to the trunk highway approach. In this instance materials from the dismantled Rock river bridge will be used in providing a private bridge. The bridge contractors assisted the city to the extent of driving the piling for this outlet while the necessary equipment was available.
In fact, both the bridge and the grading contractors have been more than generous in assisting the city in rearranging the park to conform to the new requirements imposed by the new trunk highway and the members of the council feel deeply grateful to contractors and also the construction crews for the public spiritedness they have shown from the outset in doing many tasks that did not give them a cent of added remuneration.
Next week: Schall's speech concludes.

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