An old bridge that no longer works for Fremont County might be right at home in Buena Vista.
At their last meeting, the town’s board of trustees directed Mayor Duff Lacy to sign a letter of support for South Main developer Jed Selby, who has been looking at acquiring the historic Parkdale Bridge to span the Arkansas River at South Main Square.
Given a second life as a pedestrian bridge, it would address the town’s Master Trails Plan, which calls for another bridge across the Arkansas to access town property and the public lands to the east.
The 20-ton bridge, which belongs to Fremont County and is maintained by Martin Marietta Materials, currently spans the Arkansas at the east edge of Bighorn Sheep Canyon. Used by Martin Marietta to access its Parkdale Quarry, the one-lane bridge dates back to 1915. It currently sees about 100 vehicles a day.
Upon a state inspection, enough repairs were identified that Martin Marietta decided to just replace the Parkdale Bridge. The company ran an ad in the Cañon City Daily Record, offering the bridge as-is for free.
Michael Sheahan, a consultant for Martin Marietta, said there have been roughly 17 suitors who have stepped forward so far. “It’s not the kind of thing that just anybody can do,” he said. “Moving it is no small task. But to see it get a useful second life, that would be pretty fun.”
The Parkdale Bridge does have some historic value, and has been identified as eligible for the National Historic Register. Before the bridge departs, the Fremont County Heritage Commission plans to document it with photos and have a model produced. The idea is to have the bridge removed while water is low.
Buena Vista’s trustees unanimously agreed to the letter of support. Lacy said moving and installing the bridge would be at Selby’s expense. “This is a South Main project,” he noted. “Dollars and cents at this point (it costs) nothing to the Town.”
And the board was clear that there’s much to be ironed out, including permission from the Bureau of Land Management.
There was some discussion about the appearance of the bridge, which is characterized as a pony truss model. In its current state it has a used and utilitarian appearance, and apparently a few people in town have noticed that.
“I’m hearing from people that they don’t like the Parkdale Bridge, that it’s ugly,” Mayor Pro Tem Libby Fay said.
Trustee David Volpe said that while the bridge isn’t very attractive at this point, he was certain Selby would be able to improve the aesthetics.
Featured image: Historic Parkdale Bridge. Photo by Matt Lohry, Aug. 2020