The city of Aspen later this summer will replace a pedestrian bridge that was damaged in March when a dump truck with its haul bed raised drove under the span and took out a section of a laminate girder.
Aspen City Council on Monday approved a contract with Gould Construction, which is sourcing the new bridge from the same manufacturer as the existing span that crosses Castle Creek Road near the roundabout. The bridge is part of the Marolt Trail and connects to a similar footbridge over Maroon Creek Road, forming a critical trail link with downtown Aspen and points west, including the schools and hospital campuses.
The new bridge will cost $171,000, though the city’s insurance company, CIRSA, will cover $99,000 of that, according to city officials. The $99,000 amount is what it would have cost to repair the girder while leaving the rest of the span in place, but the city’s parks staff and open space and trails board felt that a full replacement was preferable. The repaired bridge would last about another 20 years, according to trails supervisor Brian Long, while the replacement bridge has a projected 50-year lifespan.
The bridge was struck on March 20 by a truck belonging to a contractor working for the city to haul snow. The truck had dumped its load near the Marolt housing complex, but the driver failed to return its haul bed to the lowered position and was coming down Castle Creek Road. Park department manager Jeff Woods noted that the truck had driven a few hundred yards with its bed raised before hitting the bridge.
“I don’t know how that can happen,” he said during Monday’s council meeting.
Another city official noted that the driver had been fired as a result of the incident and CIRSA is seeking reimbursement from the trucking company that was hauling the snow.
Councilwoman Rachel Richards noted that the bridge suffered another similar incident since its early 2000s installation, when a truck carrying a raised crane struck the bridge.
“It scares me a little that it’s already been hit twice in 12 or 15 years, so will the new bridge be hit twice in the next 12 to 15 years?” Richards said.
Woods noted that both impacts on the bridge were caused by trucks driving improperly and that the bridge is not otherwise a low-clearance hazard.
After the impact, the bridge was closed until the city installed a temporary structural support to make it safe. However, officials knew that a permanent fix would be needed.
When the new bridge is brought in, the replacement will impact Castle Creek Road for about four hours, according to Woods. He noted that when that happens, police, fire and ambulance services will need to be staged on both sides of the closure to guarantee service to the Castle Creek Valley.
The parks department is working on ways to repurpose materials from the existing bridge, according to Long, who said there are various landscaping projects going forward in city parks that could use parts of the bridge.