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Mancos approves contract for bridge design

Russell Engineering will design Main Street bridge
Mancos Marshal Jason Spruell (left) swears in new deputy marshal Ricky Shadden at the latest town council meeting.

On Wednesday the Mancos town board approved a contract with Russell Planning and Engineering to design a replacement for the Main Street Bridge.

The bridge was built in 1912, and replacing it has been a topic of discussion for the town since 2015. Interim Town Administrator Heather Alvarez told the town board that the Colorado Department of Transportation has committed more than $1 million toward the project, and the town has applied for a Department of Local Affairs grant as well. But Alvarez estimated design, engineering and construction management for the new bridge would still cost the town about $250,000.

Russell Engineering, which is based in Durango, also designed the new pedestrian crosswalk on U.S. Highway 160 in Mancos. Alvarez said that, while it may not have been the cheapest option, she believed it was the most qualified company to submit a bid because of its history with bridge construction and with CDOT. The company will handle design and engineering for the bridge project, and may also oversee construction. But Alvarez said many aspects of construction are still uncertain, and may affect the cost over the long term.

“This process is going to be very involved, and there are so many variables at this point that we are not aware of,” she said.

The bridge is located in a flood plain, near the very old Bauer Building and in a possible bald eagle nesting site. All of these, among other factors, may complicate construction. Russell’s proposal, Alvarez said, shows that its staff members are aware of these problems and have experience navigating special environmental and historical requirements.

According to Russell’s bid proposal, the existing Main Street Bridge can’t handle heavy loads and is beginning to crack in several places because of its age. The company proposed a replacement bridge about 50 feet long and just over 40 feet wide, with sidewalks on each side and an architectural design made to match the surrounding historic buildings. This preliminary design would accommodate pedestrians and all types of vehicles.

The council members voted unanimously to approve the contract with Russell, with Michele Black being absent. But several of them acknowledged that this was just the first step in a long process.

“It’s going to be interesting to see what surprises come through,” Mayor Pro Tem Fred Brooks said.

Other action

During the meeting, the Mancos council also heard a request for support from several members of the newly formed Mancos Trails Group, who want to create more biking and hiking trails in the area.

Ricky Shadden was sworn in as the town’s new deputy marshal, and council members discussed several ongoing issues, such as a potential ordinance to modify Mancos’s burn ban regulations. The council voted unanimously to give $250 to the group hosting visitors from Mancos’s French sister city in September, and Mayor Queenie Barz read a proclamation welcoming the group to town. The council also voted unanimously to approve a restructuring of ownership for marijuana dispensary Willow North LLC.

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