Bridge replaced over Carson River |

Bridge replaced over Carson River

by Linda Hiller

GARDNERVILLE – A bridge over Carson River waters will be replaced after three years of being impassable.

The bridge, south of Gardnerville and north of where the old Ruhenstroth power dam once stood, was fatally damaged in the 1997 New Year’s flood, and since then, efforts to repair it hit snags.

“The tribe asked Sen. (Richard) Bryan to intervene and get it built,” said Bryan’s rural director Tom Baker. “We were on a tour of the (Carson) Valley a while back, and Brian Wallace came up and talked to the senator about it. That’s when I got involved.”

Baker said repairs to the bridge came under the jurisdiction of the Federal Emergency Management Agency and as such, would involve replacing the old bridge with a similar one.

“That was a low water crossing bridge, and every time there was high water on the river, the bridge would be under water,” Baker said. “It had washed out several times. Instead, we thought, ‘Let’s get this bridge replaced once and for all so it isn’t another low water crossing.’ Because of that, it had to go back as part of the budget, and that’s what slowed things up.”

Because the bridge site is on Bureau of Indian Affairs land on one bank and Forest Service land on the opposite side, the Federal Highway Administration will oversee the project, according to Construction Operations Engineer Ed Hammontree of Denver, Colo.

Granite Construction was awarded the $1.07 million contract last week. A preconstruction contract hearing Friday laid out the specifics of the project, which is expected to begin in a few weeks.

Brian Roll, Granite’s construction supervisor, said the two-lane bridge will be constructed from approximately 247 cubic meters of concrete.

“This bridge is designed to rest 15 feet above the river and not flood every time there is high water in the river,” Roll said. “It will be bigger than the old one and have a haystack approach. It will be an all-season permanent structure. It’s no problem making it flood-proof, since it would take a 15-foot wall of water to damage it.”

Two piers of concrete will rest secured on the columns and the middle part of the bridge will abut those structures, creating the 180-foot span.

“We hope to be done by September, but if everything goes perfectly, it could be done in June,” Roll said. “Our contract goes to Nov. 30, but it won’t take that long.”