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Posted on: April 17, 2018

Update on Reopening Pedestrian Bridge Burned in March Fire

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Montrose, Co — City Councilors and staff determined the bridge over the Uncompahgre River which burned last month is “very critical” to public use and set an accelerated timetable to repair and reopen the walkway this summer. The bridge is currently closed to all pedestrians.

The city’s recreation bridge, a retired railroad structure which now serves as a pedestrian walkway over the river, connects city trails and was partially burned in an out-of-control brush fire on March 27.

While the investigation into the fire remains ongoing, City Engineer Scott Murphy told councilors at Monday's City Council Work Session that repairs and upgrades to the bridge have been assessed, and reported a target date to reopen the bridge is now at the end of June.

"The impacts to pedestrian use are pretty large," Murphy acknowledged.

Multiple evaluations by city engineers and from the local engineering firm DOWL concluded the bridge's support timbers were "not structurally compromised" in the fire and are suitable to support the bridge's loads. However the bridge's deck and railing support were damaged and are in need of replacement.

The accelerated repairs include replacing a 65-foot section of bridge's 200-foot concrete deck and removing the chain-link fencing that protects pedestrians as they cross. In addition to the decking and fence replacement, the project will remove and dispose of the remaining black char from the underlying bridge support structure.

Murphy said the best method would be to sandblast the char from the timbers to make the bridge atheistically pleasing and remove potential environmental hazards like char falling into the river.

"We can hopefully clean this up without too much expense," Murphy said.

The bridge's new metal protective barriers would resemble the steel barriers used on the bridge over the city's Whitewater Sports Park in Riverbottom Park.

The repairs and upgrades are expected to cost about $100,000 and would be allocated from the city's emergency reserve fund. The city would use this money to get the project underway while the city's claim with the Colorado Intergovernmental Risk Sharing Agency (CIRSA) is processed. The city filed the claim with CIRSA in the days after the fire.

The City of Montrose plans to open the project up for bids on April 24. The City Council will vote to award the bid at their May 1 regular City Council meeting.

Due to safety concerns the bridge cannot be reopened until the repairs are complete.

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