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Mancos bridge project impacted by rains, supply shortages

Construction continues on a new bridge in Mancos over the Mancos River. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Businesses affected by construction; improvement will be worth it, town manager says

Construction on the Main Street bridge in Mancos has been delayed somewhat because of rainy weather and a shortage of construction supplies, said Town Manager Heather Alvarez.

The $2 million bridge project over the Mancos River is about 60% to 70% complete, she said. The original end date was Aug. 31, but it might need to be extended.

“The contractor is working hard to get back on schedule,” Alvarez said. “There were some unexpected challenges with weather and supplies.”

Delivery of bridge materials, including steel and concrete, were delayed because of supply chain disruptions related to the pandemic, she said.

Monsoon rains in July and August disrupted the concrete pouring schedule. Work also stopped to accommodate Mancos town events. The project’s total cost increased because of a rise in prices on construction material and additional engineering and design work, Alvarez said.

The old bridge from 1912 has been removed, and the new support structure is being installed. This week, concrete will be poured for the bridge’s wing walls.

Steel girders will be installed, then the bridge deck, pavement, parapet, sidewalks, railing and lighting.

“It’s a major improvement for town; inconvenient for the short term but well worth it when finished,” Alvarez said. “The added sidewalks will be especially nice for pedestrians to access local businesses on both sides of the river.”

Mancos Town Manager Heather Alvarez and Mancos Mayor Queenie Barz stand in front of the town bridge project while holding a piece of the previous bridge that will be used to build a railing. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

Steel rods salvaged from the old bridge will be used to build stylish railing that allows for views of the river while crossing, Alavarez said.

The bridge is also designed to blend in with the aesthetics and color of the adjacent historic Bauer building.

The major construction project in the middle of the Mancos business district has been disruptive, but businesses and customers have adjusted, endured and even enjoyed watching the project progress.

Construction of the new Mancos bridge is happening as customers dine next door at the Absolute Bakery. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

Construction is happening just a few feet away from the Absolute Bakery, which has remained open throughout.

Owner David Blaine said that despite the nearby disruption, the restaurant has remained busy all summer.

“People find it somewhat amusing,” he said. “A few regulars take pictures every day, watching the different phases has been interesting for customers.”

He said the construction crew meets with him regularly about the project and what to expect day to day.

“In the end, it will be better for town and safer for pedestrians,” he said.

Customer access to Fenceline Cider, on the other side of the river, has been impacted by the bridge project, said owner Sam Perry.

“Locals have been supportive because they know how to get around the construction, but tourists have been a little confused how to get here,” he said.

Fenceline Cider owner Sam Perry said bridge construction cut off access for some tourists, but the bridge and its new sidewalks will provide improved access. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)

Signs direct people to a pedestrian bridge that leads across the river toward the cidery. Alpacka Rafts opened its yard to allow for easier public access to the cidery during construction.

Perry said in anticipation of the bridge closure and less customer access, the cidery focused on wholesale market, and has had success distributing its product to bars and liquor stores on the Front Range.

The Artisans of Mancos cooperative is also next to the bridge construction. Rustic furniture builder Peter Eppard, who sells his work in the gallery, said it did not appear to have an obvious impact on customer traffic.

“It has been a successful summer. Business is up, especially over last year,” he said.

The bridge is being being built by D&L Construction, of Cortez. It is funded by a $1 million grant from CDOT, a $193,000 grant from the Department of Local Affairs and $820,634 from the town.