Sunlight Bridge stabilization project is done
GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – The city of Glenwood Springs, working with the Army Corps of Engineers, recently completed a $360,000 project to stabilize the Sunlight Bridge across the Roaring Fork River on 27th Street.
The bridge was built in 1964 and was originally in Garfield County’s jurisdiction before the area was annexed into the city, according to assistant city engineer King Lloyd.
It was identified several years ago as having a high potential for scouring during high runoff, which can undercut the bridge support system, he said.
“If you have a high enough velocity of water for an extended period of time, the river channel will wash out underneath the concrete caps that are placed over the pilings,” Lloyd said. “That can threaten the stability of the bridge.”
City officials have known about the potential problem for more than 10 years. Lloyd said inspectors from the state of Colorado regularly monitor bridges that are prone to scouring and recommend when repairs are needed.
The problem became more evident when the new concrete deck was installed on the bridge in 2001, Lloyd said.
“We did a temporary, stop-gap repair at the time, and began working with the Corps to help us out with the expense to do the bigger project,” he said.
That funding finally came through last year, and the project was completed over the last month and a half. The Corps covered 65 percent of the project cost, while the city picked up the remaining 35 percent, Lloyd said.
He explained that the work involved excavating around the pilings and installing large rock rip-rap in the river bed on the upstream side to resist against scouring, then covering it with river cobble.
The work was done without having to close the bridge to traffic, and the river remained open to recreational uses as well, Lloyd said.
In addition to the bridge work, the city and the Corps also worked with the Colorado Division of Wildlife to enhance fish habitat.
“That’s a good trout fishing hole in that area of the river, so we took some of the extra rip-rap material and planted it strategically in the area,” Lloyd said.
One result is a slight change in the river channel about 100 yards upstream from the bridge, which any boaters navigating that stretch will need to be aware of during low water periods.
“The center channel now gets pretty shallow during low flows, so river left is the more navigable way through that section now,” he said.
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