PARK COUNTY, Colo. — A new $2.6 million bridge replacement project on U.S. 285 began in early July and a three-month full closure of the highway starts Aug. 2.
The Colorado Department of Transportation said crews will replace a bridge and its railings, rebuild the approach to the bridge, and replace the guardrail. The project also includes wetland mitigation and a stream diversion. The work has multiple locations in Park County, including U.S. 285 at milepoint 172.2 to 173.5, State Highway 9 at milepoint 63, and U.S. 24 at milepoint 47.5.
CDOT said the bridge over the South Fork South Platte River, which is between Antero Junction and Fairplay, has had to close periodically due to heavy rain and high water. Some of the wooden piles are also exhibiting "serious rot and decay at the waterline," CDOT said.
Michelle Peulen, CDOT's communications manager for the southeast region, said this doesn't mean the bridge is going to collapse, but rather it's one CDOT will monitor closely leading up to its replacement.
The project started July 6, CDOT said. Operations ran overnight — from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. Monday through Friday — until July 17. Now, the work will include a full closure in August, September and October, starting on Aug. 2. During these months, when CDOT will replace the bridge, drivers will need to use alternate routes, such as State Highway 9 and U.S. 24.
Peulen said this detour only adds about eight minutes to travel times.
The project is needed to make the bridge safer and to improve drivers' experiences on that stretch of road, CDOT said.
Zak Dirt Inc. was selected as the contractor for the project, which has a current price tag of $2.6 million.
Similar projects are in the works to replace other timber bridges in the county.
"We have a program coming up that will replace 19 bridges in this part of the state," Peulen said. "Several of them are in Park County and many of them are timber bridges. Timber bridges decay. The wood rots. So, those bridges are a high priority for us to replace."