LARIMER COUNTY, Colo. — A bridge that serves as the only access point to eight cabins in Poudre Canyon was demolished by Larimer County Wednesday.
A group of residents have been protesting the removal of Profile Rock Bridge, which was damaged in a deadly mudslide in the area that killed several people and destroyed six homes on July 20.
Following the mudslide, Larimer County engineers inspected the bridge and determined demolishing it was the only option.
"The chief building official, Eric Fried, declared the Profile Rock Bridge 'imminently dangerous' due to the floods from July 20, and it was in such a state that it needed to come down as soon as possible," Larimer County Code Compliance Supervisor Amy White said.
Two permanent residents are now without a home, and seven other cabin owners are without access to their property.
"My grandfather and great uncle built it," said Carol Squires, a resident who uses the bridge daily. "We travel across it each day. For us, to be able to go to the highway so we can go to the church on Sundays, so that we can go down to Fort Collins to get groceries..." Squires said, trailing off.
She said it's the only pathway to the outside world.
Squires disputed the county's inspection of the bridge, stating that their engineers didn't do a thorough job.
"So, the 'imminent danger' is based on their engineers, which did not go under the bridge," Squires said.
According to the county, their engineers couldn't access some parts of the bridge because "the structure was severely limited due to the amount of debris, safety concerns and active removal of debris."
So, Squires and another property owner hired their own structural engineer who determined "it's dangerous and needed to be stabilized," but could be repaired.
"It wasn't just about to fall down," engineer Geoffrey Robinson said. "It wasn't like it was only supported by debris. It was hanging from the abutments and resting on one mid-river abutment."
Despite a plan to stabilize the bridge with a steel fabrication company, which was estimated to take two weeks, the county says they can't wait that long because of the safety risks involved.
"Repair of the Profile Rock Bridge is not feasible," a county report stated. "To leave an existing three-span bridge in the waterway that may sustain further damage due to additional flooding or debris flow from the Black Hollow area creates life safety and property damage issues."
For the Squires and seven other cabin owners, the demolition means no more access to their property.
"We have basically been evicted from our home and at a rapid rate," Squires said.
While her family figures out what their next move is, they have started an online fundraiser to raise money for a new bridge.