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The Salmon City Council spent a portion of its October 7 meeting discussing whether or not there should be a discussion on not replacing the bridge to Island Park.

Councilman Jim Baker pointed out that in all the hours of meetings regarding the topic, an option of not building a replacement bridge has never been discussed. He thought the council and the public should be aware that option has not been investigated, especially since the city is looking at spending upwards of a half million dollars to provide vehicle access to a small strip of land that already has foot access.

Baker said the public should be aware the bridge being proposed is bigger and higher than the one now closed to the public and due to its size it will restrict parking. He also pointed out the Island Park “ramp” is really just an unimproved hand carry-on. He wondered why the actual boat ramp on the island’s north end isn’t used. Councilman Ken Hill suggested frequent muddy conditions encountered getting to that ramp may be one reason and Councilman Rob Jackson said there is a fairly strong current at that site which makes loading a jet boat difficult.

Councilman Russ Chinske stated he likes the idea of no vehicles but that there needs to be a bicycle or pedestrian foot path access across that channel of the river. He said the fencing and signs are doing no good in keeping people off the bridge. He emphasized the need to remove the old bridge, “We should at least do that.” Chinske predicted someone will get hurt if the condemned bridge remains in place.

Councilman Fred Waidely said the city has done something. It has fenced off the bridge, installed closure signs and warnings to stay off the structure. He said, “You can’t legislate stupidity. If people are stupid enough to put their lives in jeopardy to get across there, there’s nothing we can do about it.”

Chinske thought other alternatives need to be discussed further and Councilman Jim Bockelman agreed. He thinks there should be something big enough for vehicle access, in case of emergency, and safe for bicycling or walking however; if discussions go to the point of deciding to save the city hundreds of thousands of dollars by not building a bridge the community needs to weigh in. Bockelman said people will be upset if there are no provisions for vehicular access.

City Grants-Community Development Project Director Mary Cerise named two major reasons presented in all the funding applications she has written. The first is the issue of safety. She said the area has a great deal of use and right now there is no way to get Emergency Medical Services equipment to the site. Cerise also said Search and Rescue uses that site to launch jet boats.

The second and equally important reason for a vehicular bridge is that the Public Works Department needs to access the city infrastructure that is located on the island. Cerise then reminded the council the city has invested $130,000 in a bridge deck which now belongs to the city.

Baker maintained it is worthwhile to schedule a re-analysis of bridge options at a future meeting and discuss the alternative of taking no action.

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