Traffic restricted on bridge | SteamboatToday.com

Traffic restricted on bridge

Group recommends step to prevent further deterioration

Brandon Gee

Bridging

— The city of Steamboat Springs has taken steps to slow the continuing deterioration of the Yahmonite Bridge in Old Town.

On the recommendation of engineering group Kirkham Michael, the city has installed stop signs on either side of the bridge and posted signs asking that only one vehicle proceed over the structure at a time.

Public Works Director Jim Weber said the “structurally obsolete” bridge – which has crumbling abutment walls, rotting wood and stressed beams – is in such a state that the city had to either restrict its use or close it.

“It’s just one of those things that has reached its useful life,” Weber said.

The city originally planned to replace the bridge this year, based on a 2006 report from the Colorado Department of Transportation that cited “significant deterioration” of one of the abutment walls under the bridge. No qualified contractors bid on the project, however, so construction has been delayed until spring 2008.

After learning the bridge would not be replaced this year, the city contacted Kirkham Michael to determine whether the bridge could handle existing traffic until spring. Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said the stop signs and one-car limit are satisfactory steps for now.

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“Obviously we’ll monitor it, and if we feel we need to close it, we will,” she said.

Weber said the stop signs are the most important restriction because they reduce the speed at which cars are crossing the bridge, which reduce the vibrations the bridge is subject to.

“The main thing is the speed,” Weber said.

Even with the current restrictions, Weber said the city could still decide to close the bridge before it is replaced if it is deemed to dangerous for travel.

“That could all change based on one vehicle blowing through a stop sign,” Weber said. “There’s always a chance the bridge could come down now.”

The bridge replacement project will include a total reconstruction of the bridge and a realignment of Soda Creek. Weber said the project would close the bridge for more than two months. The Yahmonite Bridge crosses Soda Creek at the northern end of Ninth Street, which merges with Aspen Street and then Yahmonite Street to the west.