Restoration effort for historic Carbondale bridge ramping up
March 21, 2009
CARBONDALE ” Town Trustee John Hoffmann sees the Satank Bridge as an elegantly built, unique structure.
The bridge sits just downstream of the Highway 133 bridge leading into Carbondale, closed to vehicles and pedestrians. Efforts to fund an estimated $636,738 restoration of the historic bridge built in 1902 are ramping up again.
Assistant Garfield County Engineer Jeff Nelson told county commissioners this week that the Satank Bridge is the only bridge of its type in Colorado still standing.
Hoffmann said the bridge is wood and steel, all it’s compression members are wooden, and all of the tension members are steel. The bridge has hand-forged eyes, chiseled and riveted feet. It’s said to be the oldest and longest-spanning wooden truss bridges in Colorado.
“It’s an old design that doesn’t have any backup structure, so if one part fails the whole bridge would fail, which is why you don’t see them around anymore. This is the last one around that hasn’t failed yet,” Hoffmann said. “The entire bridge is made out of 20 foot or less lengths of materials so it could all come in on a wagon.”
Nelson said planning work on the restoration has been going on heavily for the past three months. The Colorado Historical Society told the county last month it awarded a $297,500 grant to the rehabilitation project.
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Commissioner Tresi Houpt said Monday, “This is an important project and I applaud those who have brought it forward. I think the grant that has been offered from the State Historical Fund is larger than you would typically see for a project like this.”
The county must sign a letter acknowledging it’s aware that there will be a 20-year covenant attached to accepting the grant money.
Hoffmann said the county would have to agree to maintain the bridge for 20 years. The restored bridge wouldn’t be open for vehicles, but it would provide a pedestrian and bicycle route in and out of the Satank area, as well as an interpretive site, and a spot to fish from or observe boaters in the river.
The bridge was built by Morrill and Broughton Builders and Contractors of Glenwood Springs. It was officially closed to vehicles and pedestrians in 1994, and to pedestrians in 2003. The Carbondale Trails Committee and others started trying to restore the bridge about 10 years ago. Previous funding efforts were unsuccessful as costs came in higher than projections and restoration became more complex than it first appeared.
The bridge could be restored by using a 350-ton crane to pick it up and swing it over to a nearby spot of land.