EAGLE, Colorado - For 80 years, the narrow "Green Bridge" east of town marked the entryway to Eagle.
Earlier this year, the Colorado Department of Transportation replaced the familiar landmark with a new bridge designed to handle modern traffic volumes.
But the structure lives on, memorialized in a sign recently installed at the Eagle Regional Visitor Information Center and in a stockpile of steel sitting at the Eagle Public Works facility in anticipation of the Eby Creek Road improvements project.
While the bridge replacement was a necessity for CDOT, Eagle Town Engineer Tom Gosiorowski said that CDOT originally proposed leaving the bridge in place and realigning U.S. Highway 6 at the location. Such a plan would mean placing the highway much closer to residences at Red Canyon Townhomes. The town of Eagle advocated a different program that would leave the Highway 6 alignment in place and preserve the bridge history in another form.
The new sign details the history of the bridge.
"The Eagle River Bridge was one of the first of its kind in Colorado," the sign reads. Its Parker Truss design dates back to the 1850s. Because of its angle cords, the design offers greater support at mid-span for lower costs.
"In the 1930s, there was an additional reason to choose the Parker Truss. Its construction was labor intensive, offering work for unemployed Americans during the Great Depression," the sign details.
The display also provides information about Colorado's larger road-improvement program during the 1930s, as well as historic photos of the green bridge. As a point of interest, the bridge wasn't always green. When it was first built, it was painted silver.
The original bridge was completed in 1934 at a cost of $31,541. In comparison, the new bridge cost $2.9 million.
As for steel from the structure, after the lead-based paint was removed and the steel was covered with primer, it came back to Eagle to await construction of the Eby Creek Road improvements. That project is a couple of years out and when completed will include a series of roundabouts along the roadway to improve traffic circulation in town.
"We are going to use parts of the bridge to construct shed roofs over the pedestrian/bike path at the railroad bridge," Gosiorowski said.
Gosiorowski said town crews will continue exploring other ways to use the recycled steel from the bridge, but because they can't determine the exact type of steel it is, they cannot determine its load-bearing capacity.
"We are using it in kind of a decorative way because it's a good way to preserve the history of the bridge," Gosiorowski said.