As of Friday, April 3, 2015
[NOTE: This article has been corrected. Construction is to start this fall and is scheduled to be completed during November 2016. -AO]
RIGGINS – This fall, a crawler crane will roll through Burgdorf, north-bound, then on to French Creek Road, then down the dozen or so switchbacks that descend toward the Salmon River, then west to the Manning Crevice Bridge, where it will stand opposite an outrigger crane. Together, these cranes will help raise a replacement for the span originally constructed in 1934. By next fall, they’ll be ready to remove the old bridge.
It was built by Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps, but if all goes according to the plan sketched out at a March 11 public meeting, the old bridge will be gone by the end of the first week of November 2016. Federal Highway Administration Western Federal Lands Highway Division project manager Greg Gifford was quick to note caveats, but the timeline planners described at a public meeting points to demolition after Halloween 2016. That date may change, as planning is about 70 percent complete, with an agreement between the federal government and the contractor to follow sometime this summer.
Construction may start as early as this August.
“This is not even aggressive,” Gifford told the crowd of a couple dozen who gathered in a Salmon Rapids Lodge conference room. “It’s going to happen quickly and smoothly.”
Planning for a replacement has been in the works for years, as Gifford’s team has worked to include public input. The new bridge will have a concrete deck to minimize tire noise, and will be covered with an epoxy aggregate overlay to minimize maintenance. These steps address two of the concerns the public has raised, but some of the changes cannot be resolved by modifying the design.
The old bridge itself is regarded by federal law as a historic place and its loss will be mitigated only by preserving records of its existence. A 3D model presented by the planning team’s Kelly Hoopes provided a visual demonstration of one of the benefits the new bridge will provide – and of one of the main concerns bridge users have raised that the new design won’t solve. Drivers in opposing directions sometimes can’t see each other entering the old bridge on account of the geometric quirks involved with the crossing. Drivers will still have to cope with the daytime visibility issue when approaching the new bridge.
“It’s not as bad as the old bridge, but there’s no way to change the geometrics…it’s not ideal,” Gifford said.
While downstream traffic will yield before entering the bridge from the south, Hoopes’ model showed how a vehicle similar in size to a Toyota Prius already on the bridge may escape notice by a yielding Prius driver.
“If you’re driving a little car, and you’re looking for a little car, you’re going to have to stop and look between the [guard rail] tubes,” Hoopes said.
While the old bridge barely accommodated single-lane traffic, and while the new bridge is intended to accommodate only one-way traffic, the new bridge will be wide enough for two small cars to slip past each other.
Planners said meeting materials including both the tentative timeline and Hoopes’ visualization will be available online, along with more details about the project: