Bridge replacement irks some |

Bridge replacement irks some

City hopes for mid-November project completion date

A sign warns drivers of road construction on Yahmonite above the intersection of Ninth and Aspen streets. Crews are replacing the water line and the old bridge that used to cross Soda Creek.
John F. Russell

— The replacement of a small bridge has necessitated the digging of a very large hole in Old Town Steamboat Springs.

City officials hope the impassable crater at the site of the former Yahmonite Bridge will be replaced with a new bridge by mid-November, bringing a welcome end to a project that has brought major inconvenience to the neighborhood.

“I’ve spoken to every homeowner here,” city engineer Ben Beall said at the construction site Monday. “We recognize it’s a big impact. We want to get out of here as soon as possible. We’re not here to make people’s lives miserable. We’re here to provide upkeep of public infrastructure.”

The Yahmonite Bridge crossed Soda Creek at the northern end of Ninth Street, which merges with Aspen Street and then Yahmonite Street to the west. The $610,000 bridge replacement includes a total realignment of Soda Creek, as well as waterline replacements in the area. Beall said the work is “a little bit behind schedule,” but not to a level that would affect the completion date.

Beall said it’s too early to say whether the project is on track to stay within its budget.

“I think we’re close,” he said.

Two Ninth Street residents interviewed Monday, both of whom wished to remain anonymous, cited headaches such as a noisy generator that runs 24 hours a day and frustrations with unrelated shoulder improvements that were damaged a week after their completion when a trench was dug in the street to replace a waterline.

“I can understand the confusion,” Beall said.

Doug Marsh, the city’s street/fleet superintendent, took blame for the ill-timed shoulder improvements, which at best will need to be repaired and at worst will have to be completely redone.

“I didn’t know the extent of the work that was going to be done,” Marsh said. “If I need to redo the work on the Ninth Street shoulder, I will.”

Marsh said the cost of the project was minimal because the shoulder was shored up with recycled millings from the city’s pavement maintenance program. He said the cost was limited to the labor of three employees, a price he could not quantify.

Beall said the humming generator is a necessary evil to keep the construction site dry. While Soda Creek is being diverted through the site by two tubes, Arvada-based construction contractor TARCO also is using two pumps to remove subsurface water and keep two bridge fittings dry so they can be filled with concrete. As of Monday night, Beall said the city has found a way to operate the pumps using the local electric grid, meaning the generator is no longer necessary.

From new sidewalks to street paving, the bridge and waterline project is one of several city construction projects racing Mother Nature for completion this year. Beall said it would be critical for the new Yahmonite Bridge to be ready for paving before asphalt plants shut down because of cold temperatures.

“Everybody’s trying to get stuff done before the snow flies,” Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said. “We basically just ask for everybody’s patience and consideration.”

The city originally planned to replace the structurally obsolete Yahmonite Bridge in 2007 based on a 2006 report from the Colorado Department of Transportation that cited “significant deterioration” of one of the abutment walls under the bridge, built in 1971. No qualified contractors bid on the project, however, so construction was delayed.

Beall said frustrations with the project will be short lived, while the new bridge will last 40 to 50 years, or even longer.

“Everyone’s concerns are valid,” he said. “I just hope they can continue to be patient with us because it is an impact to the neighborhood.”

For more information on the project, contact Beall at 871-8293.

– To reach Brandon Gee, call 871-4210 or e-mail

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