Critical Cameo bridge set for replacement

With an eye toward future development of the Cameo power plant property just off Interstate 70 in De Beque Canyon, a plan to replace the aging, 1960s, linchpin bridge that connects the parcel to the rest of the world is slowly taking shape.

Last month, Mesa County agreed in principle to coordinate with the Colorado Department of Transportation a project to replace what’s called the Cameo Road Bridge — the deteriorating connection between I-70 and the plot of land where an Xcel Energy power plant turned coal into electricity starting in the 1950s.

The bridge is also a key connection to the BLM’s Little Bookcliffs Wild Horse Herd Management Area, stretching west of the Cameo property. Today, traffic along the bridge is limited to one direction in the center of the roadway, with a weight limit of 37 tons.

By agreeing with CDOT about the project, the county secures a Special Highway Committee grant of more than $1 million to replace the bridge, and the county will match that with a little more than $273,500. That money will come from the county’s 2013 capital projects budget.

The agreement also means the design and construction phases will have to meet stringent CDOT requirements — including having a number of design alternatives, the direction of a steering committee, and official input from all stakeholder groups involved.

No contracts for either the design of the new bridge, nor actual construction, have been awarded yet.

County staff, however, expect those details to be decided sometime this year.

The estimated price tag for the project is upwards of $1.36 million.

The longtime coal-fired power plant at Cameo shuttered operations at the end of 2010, and has been primarily in demolition mode since then.

Officials with Xcel Energy — owners of about 2,500 acres at Cameo — expect the site to be completely cleared by the end of this year.

Property developers hoping to reshape the property are being funneled through the Grand Junction Economic Partnership.

Due to the critical connection of the property via the quickly deteriorating Cameo bridge, no development project could reasonably move forward until the issue of the bridge replacement was sufficiently dealt with.

Though details of the design and construction have yet to be figured out, the county said that they expect the replacement to be done by the end of this year or early 2014.


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