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Mancos celebrates restoration of historical bridge

Iconic bridge reopens after six months

About 100 Mancos residents congregated on Main Street Saturday to usher in the completed renovations of the town’s historical bridge.

The $2 million project, originally slated to conclude Aug. 31, saw the bridge become safer, wider and more accommodating to pedestrians with the addition of sidewalks — all while still honoring the original design aesthetic.

First built in 1912, visitors were encouraged to dress in period garb to honor the century-old roots of the structure.

Dec 3, 2021
Mancos bridge replacement slated to run from May to August

“It’s just breathtaking,” said Mayor Queenie Barz of the finalized project.

From left: Mayor Ellen “Queenie” Barz, Michelle Snook, Steve Peters, Nanci Pearlstein, Brookie Medicine Eagle

She became nostalgic discussing her family’s long-embedded history in the town, and what it means to her to be a part of the new bridge’s creation, which has been five years in the making.

“It just touches your heart to feel the commitment from the community and the town,” she said.

Eventgoer Michelle Snook noted that the bridge is the center of Mancos.

“It’s where everyone congregates,” she said. “It’s nice to be able to cross it again.”

Jim Horn of SEH Engineering and principal designer of the project, said the design process began in 2017.

“I promised her (Town Administrator Heather Alvarez) I’d give her a beautiful bridge,” he said. “I had no idea what that meant.”

It was an integral part of Horn’s process to stay true to the history and surroundings of the bridge — and his ideas were solidified with the help of a few glasses of wine along the way, he said.

Colored concrete on the bridge mimics the brick of the Bauer Bank Building – although it took about six concrete test pours to perfect emulation, Horn said.

Reinforced steel from the original bridge girders now comprise the railways.

Hidden in the bridge’s framework is a flaw – and it’s not an accident.

Horn made the decision – along with construction contractors Dave & Lana Waters – to include an imperfection in the bridge’s design to honor a tradition present in several cultures.

In Japan, the concept of “wabi sabi” honors imperfection, and flaws are intentionally introduced into design works. Another example, Horn said, is Navajo weavers purposely integrating irregularities into their rug designs.

“The whole idea is you don’t want to create perfection to anger the gods,” Horn said.

Horn’s wife, Lynn Hughes, collected pieces of paper from participants competing to guess the flaw.

While most of the bridge’s reinforced steel railway pillars twist in opposite directions, two, pictured below, spiral in the same direction.

While the most of the bridge’s reinforced steel railway pillars twist in opposite directions, two, pictured below, spiral in the same direction.

Lamps have also been ordered to line the bridge, Barz said.

Hughes said that tests of the old bridge’s concrete proved it immediately necessary to reconstruct the bridge.

“They were amazed that just a little car didn’t knock it down,” she said.

The bridge’s six-month closure impacted local businesses.

For instance, Melissa Blaine, one of three Absolute Bakery and Cafe owners, said that bakery employees and supply trucks will now have easier access to the establishment.

Melissa Blaine, one of three Absolute Bakery and Cafe owners, said this is the first car she’s seen directly outside of the business since the Main Street Bridge closed for construction in May.

“We’re excited to have people walk by the door again,” she said.

The bakery stayed open an extra hour Saturday for the bridge-related festivities, and Fencline Cider served drinks outside beginning at 1 p.m.

Musician Lynne Belle Lewis performed Western-style music for those strolling the new bridge for the first time, and Art Pulis and his horse Avatar offered carriage rides.

A $1 million grant from CDOT, a $193,000 grant from the Department of Local Affairs and $820,634 from the town of Mancos funded the endeavor.