Moffat County Commissioners secure additional $20K to fix Swinging Bridge | CraigDailyPress.com

Moffat County Commissioners secure additional $20K to fix Swinging Bridge

The historic Swinging Bridge in far western Moffat County is one step closer to being rebuilt after commissioners signed an agreement with the Utah Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday. The department will contribute $20,000 toward the projected $1.5 million needed for repairs.

Local, state and federal agencies have contributed funding for the project. A Right of Way with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will establish a cost share agreement for future maintenance while leaving the county in control of the bridge. The Federal Highway Administration is expected to sign off on the project later this week allowing the county to issue a call for contractor bids.

"This is a big deal," said Commissioner Frank Moe.

The bridge — spanning the Green River on Moffat County Road 83 in Browns Park National Wildlife Refuge — has been open only to foot traffic since an employee of Moffat County rancher T. Wright Dickinson attempted to drive a tractor across it in 2014. The tractor broke through the bridge decking leaving a gaping hole.

Dickinson's insurance paid $68,000 for the tractor damage. Inspections reveled additional structural problems requiring repair or replacement of the structure, including parts that date back to about 1954, said Development Services Director Roy Tipton. The county spent $8,000 from the settlement for initial engineering.

Pioneer rancher Stanley Crouse and neighbors started building the bridge in 1928, according to historic information obtained by Tipton. It provided a means for cattle, agricultural equipment and people to cross the river, connecting Northwest Colorado with Northeastern Utah. In more recent times it has also provided access to extensive public lands in the area.

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Once the project is completed the bridge will still swing with modern materials and design improvements set to increase capacity from three tons to 14 tons allowing a type 3 Wildlands Fire Truck and most tractors to cross.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or snelson@CraigDailyPress.com