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At its November 5 meeting the Salmon City Council was informed of Idaho Transportation Department upset over the city’s October 27 decision to not close the Island Park Bridge. At the end of council discussion there was a unanimous vote to leave the bridge open until the previously decided date of November 17.

The decision came after a report from Community Development Project Coordinator Mary Cerise which included a warning from the state that state and federally allocated funds could be suspended if the city failed to follow ITD’s bridge closure request. She said, “We are red-flagged at this point.” Cerise reminded the city that funding will be needed to build a new bridge for Island Park vehicular traffic.

A preliminary report on the bridge’s undermined abutments was delivered to the Council in mid-September by Steve Frazee of Frazee Engineering. The Idaho Transportation Department notified the city October 20 that an inspection had given the bridge a rating so low on the unsafe scale that an immediate closure would be required on state owned bridges. At the October 27 meeting several local Outfitters had urged leaving the bridge open for one of their busiest times of year. At that point the local office of the Idaho Fish and Game was working at expediting a 404 permit. That permit would allow construction of a “primitive ramp: on the west side of the river for recreational access.

On November 3 the department officially asked the city to close the bridge.

Cerise also announced that evening that earlier in the day the 404 permit had been granted. It was estimated the ramp would take city crews about half a day to construct and would allow west side river access for this season’s fishing season. The ramp project was scheduled to begin the following day.

The day after the council’s November 5 decision to leave the bridge open until the 17th Mayor Leo Marshall received a telephone call and follow-up letter from the state’s Local Highway Technical Assistance Council (LTAC) Deputy Director informing the city it was very important that the bridge be closed to relieve the city of liability issues and to preserve its ability to receive state and federal funds. The letter further stated that if the issue was not addressed in a timely fashion, the Federal Highway Administration could choose to withhold all bridge funds for the entire state of Idaho.

The mayor conducted a poll of council members Friday November 7 asking if the city should close the bridge. All six council members agreed it should be closed. Barriers and signs were in place by Friday evening.

Discussion about when the old bridge along with its abutments should be removed will be on the November 19 City Council agenda.

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