Satank bridge restoration on hold

Gina Guarascio
Carbondale correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
Abutments under the historic Satank Bridge are gradually crumbling. Grant monies and county and state funding would help to restore the bridge, but the project is still $190,000 short. (Trina Ortega photo)

CARBONDALE ” The town of Carbondale and Garfield County are committed to preserving the historic Satank Bridge, located downstream from the Highway 133 bridge. But it will take longer and cost more than either entity predicted.

The original estimate to restore the bridge was $120,000. Now, town of Carbondale Recreation Director Jeff Jackel said the most recent estimate is more than $300,000. The town had applied for a grant from the Colorado Historical Society and received almost $90,000 for the project, while Garfield County chipped in $30,000.

However, with the most recent estimates ” which include moving the bridge off site to do the restoration work and to fix the abutments in the river ” the Satank Bridge restoration project was about $190,000 short.

According to Jackel, the historical society suggested the town and county relinquish the original grant and reapply for a larger grant this October. Jackel said that’s what the town and county plan to do. There is no guarantee the grant will be awarded again, but Jackel thinks the odds are good.

“I think the state will fund this project. In 2003, the bridge was listed by Colorado Preservation Inc. as endangered,” said Jackel, who felt the state wouldn’t want to see an endangered structure lost.

The 107-year-old Satank Bridge is the oldest, longest spanning wooden truss bridge remaining in Colorado, according to John Hoffmann, the chairman of the Carbondale Trails Committee, who has been instrumental in trying to preserve the bridge. Hoffmann hopes to make the bridge an interpretive site along the Rio Grande Trail.

The bridge was closed to motor vehicle traffic in 1994, and in 2003 the county closed it to pedestrians, although people continue to cross the bridge on foot.

If nothing is done soon to restore the bridge, Jackel and Hoffmann said it will likely fall into the river.

In February, county commissioners John Martin and Tresi Houpt both said they supported a financial investment to help restore the bridge, but not this year. According to Jackel, the county will have to contribute a 25 percent match to the state historic grant, which would be at least $77,500.

The project was originally slated to be completed this May, but will be postponed indefinitely depending on what happens with the state grant.