The replacement of seven antiquated bridges on the Control Road remains on schedule with construction beginning this summer and wrapping up in March 2012, transportation officials said.
The only minor setback happened Jan. 10 when Tonto National Forest officials announced that the low water crossing near Tonto Village was no longer part of the multi-bridge project.
“The replacement of the low water crossing near Tonto Village will be submitted as a separate, candidate project in the Arizona Forest Highway Program,” said Tom Puto, project manager with the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA). “Additional time is needed for engineering and environmental studies to ensure that an appropriate solution is developed.”
The seven projects advanced include replacing bridges at Webber Creek, Bonita Creek, Moore Creek, Perley Creek, Lewis Creek, Ellison Creek and Roberts Draw on Forest Road 64, commonly referred to as the Control Road.
The FHWA is currently evaluating technical and price proposals from three design/build teams with a final team selected in mid-April.
The new bridges will not only make it easier for residents to travel, but also make it safer for emergency vehicles when they respond to calls.
Several local fire chiefs who service the area said the $5 million project was a dream come true.
The Civilian Conservation Corps built the one-lane bridges in the 1930s that are too antiquated to handle today’s larger fire trucks.
A study of USFS bridges completed in 2009 backed this claim when it concluded that the bridges on the Control Road are load-restricted and approaching the limits of their original design life.
Approximately 640 vehicles travel the road daily, according to figures from March 2008 and that number is growing.
“The bridges are considered too narrow to accommodate simultaneous two-way traffic and are not rated to carry heavier, modern vehicles, which is a safety issue,” Puto said.
Last summer, environmental and design studies for the bridges began and positive public comments were given during a comment period in September.
Project construction may begin as early as spring 2011, Puto said. The FHWA will announce a final construction amount in mid-April.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Central Federal Lands Highway Division (CFLHD), in cooperation with the U.S. Forest Service and Gila County are managing the project.