For Fruita Bridge, the cure may be worse than the disease

The Fruita bridge is in danger of falling according to one Fruita engineer.

Being listed on the National Register of Historic Places is proving to be a blessing and a curse for the old Fruita Bridge.

City engineers received word last week that the Colorado Historical Society might pull the $200,000 it promised Fruita to help rebuild the bridge. The city’s plans to preserve the bridge involved using modern construction techniques. But for the town to receive funding from the state’s historical society, it must return the bridge to its original form as closely as possible.

“We are probably going to have to refine our design to meet the grant,” said Ken Haley, city engineer.

The bridge was built in 1907 by the Patterson, M.J. Construction Co. as a one-lane thoroughfare for motor cars, according to the National Register. The bridge was placed on the National Register in 1985.

In addition to the possible loss of half the money needed to repair the bridge, it is in imminent danger of collapse, according to Haley.

“It is very urgent. We feel that this work should be done before the high springtime runoff when the river picks up,” he said. “It is a definite danger.”

If that wasn’t problem enough, the rebuilding of the steel truss bridge is over budget.

The city projected a $450,000 price tag. City engineers recently discovered the earth beneath the bridge is much tougher to deal with than they thought. Pylons for securing the bridge were to be driven through shale, but it has been discovered the subsurface is sandstone.

“Instead of hammering some piles into the ground, we have to drill into it and install some concrete caissons,” Haley said.

That part of the job will cost an extra $77,295.

City engineers laid out the bridge’s plight to the Fruita City Council last week and asked for additional funding, which the city agreed to if it can find the money.

“The city of Fruita definitely showed a commitment to proceeding forward, with the assumption that the city could come up with that $77,295,” Haley said.

The bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 1970 when the Colorado Highway 340 bridge opened. Once the old Fruita Bridge is rebuilt, it will be used as a pedestrian crossing.


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