Letter: South Fork bridge makes no sense

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The plans for a new bridge over the South Fork four miles below where the road ends at the South Fork Campground are being finalized in preparation for construction next summer. Since Federal money is paying for part of the cost, Federal standards must be followed. The result is a wide two-lane bridge (32 feet between curbs) and 400-600 feet of wide connecting roadways located within a long stretch of single lane road which dead ends four miles away and is closed for at least six months of the year. Doesn’t make much sense, does it?
Originally, I was told that the bridge is structurally deficient. However, when I talked to Jeff Anderson, the CDOT engineer who last rated this bridge (303-757-9188), I learned that the steel truss needs maintenance and the supports (piling) are poor but not so bad as to be hazardous. The reason the bridge is eligible for replacement is because it is narrow. A single lane bridge in a single lane road is not too narrow!
This bridge will probably cost about a million bucks. The early estimate is $800,000, but you know how estimates go. Rio Blanco County must pay more than half of the cost since the feds don’t have enough money for the usual 80/20 split. Therefore, about half a million dollars of our tax money will be spent on a bridge that is satisfactory for the use to which it is put. If the county put up a couple of hundred thousand to paint the existing bridge and beef up the supports, the balance could go toward other badly needed county road problems.
Dick Prosence

1 Comment

  1. Well of course it makes sense. There is a future pipe line project planned for the Still Water and the construction companies couldn’t get their equipment across that old bridge. Have you been here long enough to remember the last bridge we the people paid for just before the Elk Creek project got started. They used the same argument that it was too narrow. The only vehicles that it was too narrow for was all the heavy equipment that was needed to develop the Elk Creek properties. The county tax payers paid for a bridge that they will hardly ever use and secondly, will benefit only a few. That bridge also saw the stepping down of one of the Commissioners and him leaving town right after he voted for that bridge.

    Scott Fandrich

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