Aug 14, 2015

New Willwood bridge now under construction

Motorists won’t be looking down at the Willwood Dam anymore when construction on a new bridge is completed.

The old, single-lane Willwood bridge crosses the Shoshone River and Willwood Dam at Park County Lane 14 west of Powell. The new two-lane bridge will be just below and downstream of the dam.

“It’s on the county system,” said Todd Frost, bridge project manager and Wyoming Department of Transportation (WyDOT) resident engineer in Cody.

The old bridge is deficient because it has limited weight capacity and is only one lane wide, Frost said.  

This photo was taken from the current bridge, looking downriver at the new one now under construction. Cody News Co. photo by Ilene Olson
The new bridge will have two 12-foot lanes and two 2-foot shoulders. “It’s supposed to be done by the end of next summer,” Frost said.

Brian Edwards, Park County engineer, said the total cost is $5.3 million, which includes design fees, roads approaching the bridge and right-of-way acquisition. Park County’s share of that is estimated at $530,000, he said.

The project is county and federal funding, Frost said.

The bridge is part of a B.R.O.S program or Bridge Replacement Off System, Edwards said. The federal funds will be administered by WyDOT. “It’s been in the works for several years,” he said.

“The B.R.O.S. program is a federally funded bridge replacement program to reduce the number of deficient off-system bridges,” according to WyDOT. “It applies to bridges owned by cities, towns and counties, located on a non-federal aid roadway and open to the public.

The bridge — more than 80 years old — crosses right over the Willwood Dam built in 1932. 
The original bridge, built by the U.S. Department of Reclamation, was intended as only a temporary crossing. Erecting the new bridge downstream of the original bridge is a more favorable location for crossing the river, Edwards said.

The current bridge is more than 80 years old, has only one lane and weight restrictions. Its replacement will be comparable in size to the Corbett Bridge.

The old bridge, above the dam, could not be widened to two lanes. The new bridge is a good location to connect the county roads on both sides of the river, Frost said.

Once complete, the new Willwood bridge will be one of largest in Park County, comparable to the Corbett Bridge, Edwards said.

The Corbett Bridge is a few miles downstream of Willwood. It spans the Shoshone River on U.S. Highway 14-A.

When the new bridge is open, the old bridge will be closed to the public. It will remain standing to provide the Bureau of Reclamation and Willwood Irrigation District access to the dam, Frost said.

The new bridge will have four footings. A coffer dam to temporarily divert the water away from the first footing is now in place, Frost said. 

The project is moving forward.

“As far as we know, everything is going according to plan,” Edwards said.

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