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Motorized traffic to Island Park has been shut down due to engineering fears concerning an imminent failure of the bridge that spans the Salmon Riverís west channel from the west bank to the island. At the November 19 meeting of the Salmon City Council a motion was passed to have city staff research the best avenue for hiring engineers and consultants for the removal and replacement of the bridge. Councilmen Fred Waidely and Jim Baker were selected to be part of the fact finding team.

The council also approved the allocation of $30,000 for engineering, required permitting and other expenses related to the Island Park Bridge Project. Contingency monies will supply $15,000 with $7,500 to be taken from the Water fund and $7,500 from Sewer funds. Sewer and Water funds are being used based on the urgent need to restore access to those utilities.

The council decisions came after over an hour and a half of discussion which included a report from Brianne Westfall on the progress being made by the Whitewater Park Association. She said that in view of the present unexpected need, Whitewater included the Island Park Bridge in its Request For Proposals. Four proposals were received with the S20 Engineering Services from Lyons, Colorado being the successful bidder. The association will now move on to the next major step of obtaining the required permits, biological assessments and funding to build a White Water Park. In the process of achieving the associationís latest goal a great many engineering studies have been done on the Island Park Bridge. Westfall pointed out that as per agreement the City of Salmon owns the Phase I engineering plans and can make use of them in determining the best bridge building solution.

Price quotes so far range from $87,000 to $113,000 for a prefabricated bridge. The quotes do not include the abutments which cost as much or more than the bridge structure itself.

Dan Sharp of Northwest Engineering complimented the city for being on the right path but cautioned against saying anything about height adjustments being out of the floodplain since the whole island is in the 100 year floodplain. He said the bridge would have to be significantly higher than recent recommendations to get approval from the Army Corps of Engineers. He estimated the bridge will have to be in the 80 foot range to meet requirements. Sharp said most of the water is now flowing in the west channel rather than the natural flowing east channel and that creates a fast moving cutting action from which the bridge abutments need to be removed and protected.

Sharp suggested a step by step procedure for the city to follow: first, establish the type of use expected of the bridge, obtain a geological report, choose a bridge, select a bridge manufacturer and then have the abutments designed for the selected bridge. He also suggested the city consult the county as to the Rattlesnake Bridge building issues it has had to face.

Michelle Tucker of Aspect Consulting distributed a proposal for permitting process services and mentioned that if the bridge length is extended it will mean more permitting. She added that she believes extending the bridge length is a much needed safety factor for the public. Tucker said the base line data gathered by the White Water project is of great benefit in that many of the studies needed for the bridge have already been done.

City Grants/Community Development Planner Mary Cerise explained the potential grant writing avenues and time tables all of which are months away. Councilman Jim Baker stated that as much as everyone wants a bridge as quickly as possible having to wait for the funding would be preferable to having local taxpayers bear the entire financial burden. Cerise cautioned there is no guarantee of grant money. She also said if the city applies for a grant, no money can be expended in the meantime towards the project. She added that the bridge itself has a market value that can be recouped.

Of great concern is the possibility the next high water season could wash out the bridge which would cause even greater problems. Since the grant cycle is not compatible with natureís whims Tucker suggested the city could remove the bridge at its own expense before Spring which would also remove it from the grant expenditure rules.

The city staff and selected councilmen will meet as soon as possible.

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