Mistake may have damaged bridge for good
A worker's confusion may have irreparably damaged the Swinging Bridge, a historic feature of Brown's Park, in Moffat County, Colo.
Early Wednesday, June 25, employees of the Brown's Park National Wildlife Refuge found a tractor partly fallen through the deck of the wooden structure.
Roy Tipton, Director of Development Services at Moffat County, on hand for a preliminary inspection said it could be a costly mistake.
"Apparently, the ranch hand misunderstood which bridge to cross," said Tipton.
Two bridges cross the Green River in Brown's Park: the Swinging Bridge weight limited to three tons and the other upstream by Jarvie Ranch that can carry heavier loads.
For whatever reason, the driver of the tractor chose the wrong passage.
Traveling north across the bridge, the 7.5-ton New Holland tractor made it halfway across the span before partly falling though the slats.
All that's keeping the tractor from plunging through the bridge is the front end loader braced over two sets of cross beams, says Nate Torres, Engineer with SGM. Torres was inspecting the bridge for stability on Thursday was discussing the situation with Wildlife Refuge employees and Tipton.
"The bridge is stable, for now, but we can't be sure that there isn't damage to the structure underneath the bridge surface," Torres said.
Out of an abundance of caution, the engineer declined to climb underneath to inspect the deck and cables below the bridge.
Linda DeRose, manager of the Moffat County Road and Bridge Department, said that the department was not handling the removal.
According to the county the owner of the tractor, T. Wright Dickinson, will have to remove the vehicle from the hole. Contacted for comment no one from the Dickinson ranch called back before the Vernal Express posted the article.
By Thursday afternoon, it was tentatively decided to creep the tractor back the way it came using additional cross ties over the cables.
Once the tractor is removed, Moffat County will inspect the bridge to determine whether all the elements are safe before re-opening it for vehicle traffic.
There is no anticipated time for its re-opening.