MONTROSE COUNTY ― Motorists venturing through rural southwestern Colorado will now drive over a new bridge structure on Colorado Highway (CO) 90. The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) and contractor SEMA Construction have completed the installation of the newly constructed Dolores River Bridge located about four miles east of Bedrock and 15 miles east of the Utah-Colorado state line.
The new pre-cast concrete bridge structure will provide several improvements for the driving public including wider and higher clearance for oversized vehicles. The old bridge was an historic through-truss structure which had limited clearance. The project cost, including design and construction, is estimated at $3.8 million.
“This has been a very fascinating project!” said Andrea Meduna, Senior Project Engineer. “The project team was faced with some unique challenges including dealing with a historical structure, meticulously dismantling it, and keeping track of the steel beam pieces.”
Additionally the construction crew was faced with implementing unusual traffic control earlier this spring. While drivers may typically encounter a cone-zone on the roadway; rafters, boaters and canoers also met their own “buoy zone” at the bridge construction site on the river.
“This past winter, the southwest Colorado Mountains experienced a significant amount of snowfall,” continued Meduna. “The high country snowpack resulted in very favorable spring rafting conditions for our river friends. To accommodate the rare occurrence of being able to raft this section of the Dolores, we developed a river use plan which assisted safe floating through our construction zone.”
BACKGROUND: In the fall 2014, a crack was discovered in a beam of the original steel truss bridge. The damage forced the closure of the old bridge. A temporary bridge was constructed to allow single-lane, alternating traffic which was controlled by a light signal since 2014. The temporary bridge has been removed.
The old Dolores River Bridge was documented by historians as a steel Pennsylvania through-truss bridge built in 1952. In 2002, the bridge was listed on the National Register of Historic Places for its architectural significance. The Dolores River Bridge was one of 10 remaining intact steel through-truss bridges in the State of Colorado. Because of its historical significance, the bridge was dismantled piece by piece, labeled and transported to a CDOT maintenance facility to be stored. There is potential to have the old bridge relocated for an alternate use, possibly as a pedestrian/bike path structure.
For more information, history, photos and video of this project, visit the project webpage: https://www.codot.gov/projects/sh-90-bridge-replacement-k-01-c.