Moffat County Swinging Bridge repairs discussed |

Moffat County Swinging Bridge repairs discussed

Patrick Kelly

Moffat County officials are in the process of figuring out the next step for Swinging Bridge.

Repairing Browns Park Swinging Bridge was the main topic of conversation at an intergovernmental agency meeting on Monday afternoon.

According to Moffat County Development Services Director Roy Tipton, construction on the bridge could begin in 2017 but funding must be secured first.

Representatives from the Bureau of Land Management, Colorado State Land Board, U.S. Fish and Wildlife and the U.S. Department of Agriculture joined the Moffat County Commissioners for a discussion on proposed repairs to the bridge and funding options.

The Swinging Bridge is about one mile east of the Colorado-Utah border and the only permanent crossing of the Green River in the area. It has been out of service since June 2014 when an employee of rancher T. Wright Dickinson attempted to drive a tractor across the bridge but fell partway through while crossing.

Tipton said the proposed project is to replace the all of the deck, stringers, floor beams and hanger cables.

"The goal is to improve our operating load limit up to 14 tons or more and at the same time make maintenance a little easier," he said.

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Materials and methods for construction will be determined during the engineering phase of the project, which is estimated to cost $380,000.

In total, the cost of the bridge rehabilitation is approximated at $1.52 million but will go beyond just repairing the damage caused by the tractor accident.

Tipton presented two options for funding the project — both rely on applying for federal grants. Under both financing options, Moffat County has allocated $160,000 for matching grants with $68,000 coming from Dickerson's insurance payout.

However, Moffat County does not possess the title for the bridge and without it cannot apply for grants or spend tax revenue. Tipton said there is some confusion as to what entity actually holds the bridge's title but an attorney hired by the county to investigate the matter found Fish and Wildlife to be the owner.

Sonja Jahrsdoerfer from Fish and Wildlife said she was not sure how long it would take to transfer the title to the county but she would look into it.

"So really, you're kind of dead in the water until you really know where the title sits?" Jahrsdoerfer asked.

Moffat County Commissioner Chuck Grobe responded, saying the title issue had hindered progress on funding the repair effort.

"When we found that out we stopped and said 'hey, we got to get this before we can put any Moffat County money into it,’" he said.

As the title issue is sorted out, Tipton said he is proceeding with grant applications and hopes to begin the project by the 2017 construction season.

Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.Reach Patrick Kelly at 970-875-1795 or Follow him on Twitter @M_PKelly.