Red Cliff replaces bridge damaged in July floods |

Red Cliff replaces bridge damaged in July floods

The damaged bridge provided the only truck access to the town's water treatment plant

It took several months to replace this bridge to Red Cliff's water treatment plant.

Red Cliff is Eagle County’s oldest, smallest town. When things go wrong, repairs can be complicated.

In July, a warm spell caused rapid snowmelt. With that came flooding along area streams, including Turkey Creek, the source of Red Cliff’s water.

Flooding on the creek damaged the bridge from the Shrine Pass road to the town’s water treatment plant. That damage was severe enough that the bridge had to be closed.

Town employees were able to reach the treatment plant on foot, but no trucks could cross the bridge. Long lines were used to fuel the on-site generators that keep the plant running in case of a power outage.

Town administrator Barb Smith said if a big repair was needed, a truck might have been able to cross the bridge.

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“I’m glad we didn’t have to test that,” Smith said.

The replacement bridge was just finished. But the town needed a good bit of help to get the work done.

First, the town had to get a clear title to the property. The treatment plant in the 1940s was put up Turkey Creek by the U.S. Government instead of its old location on the Eagle River. The 10th Mountain Division was active at Camp Hale at the time, leading to the possibility of river contamination.

When the treatment plant was moved, town officials thought the land belonged to Red Cliff. That wasn’t the case, and the owner of record this year turned out to be Battle One LLC, which owns the property on and around Battle Mountain.

Smith said that company helped the town get a clear title to the land. Smith said the town had to own the land in order to get grants for the bridge replacement.

“Battle Mountain worked very hard on this,” Smith said. “They were really helpful.”

Before that transfer could be official, the town had to file an application with Eagle County to subdivide the property from the larger parcel on which it sits.

That took some time.

Once the land transfer was complete and grants were located, the work could start on the bridge.

Smith said the concrete work took some time, but was able to be done on site.

When the concrete work was finished, the new bridge was trucked into town — three pieces, each 45 feet long.

The pieces were trucked into town from the south entrance to town from U.S. Highway 24, then down Water Street and dropped for a day in the parking lot of Mango’s Mountain Grill.

From there, the pieces were hauled with smaller equipment the last mile or so up the Shrine Pass road to the bridge site, then put into place.

Smith said the final bill for the project hasn’t yet been tallied. But, she added, she expects the project to come in at about $225,000, much of it handled with grants.

“We’re just really fortunate that a lot of people wanted us to do this,” Smith said.

Vail Daily Business Editor Scott Miller can be reached at or 970-748-2930.

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