Edit April 16: The article has been corrected to say the bridge is near Tower Junction.
The National Park Service recently gave the green light for the replacement of a nearly 60-year old bridge in Yellowstone to improve visitor safety.
Construction on a new bridge south of the 600-foot-long Yellowstone River Bridge near Tower Junction could begin as early as spring 2022 and last for three years, according to a press release from Yellowstone National Park Wednesday.
The estimated cost for the project is between $37 and $42 million, which also includes a mile of new road, parking, pullouts and a picnic area.
Another option in the environmental assessment proposed building a parallel bridge north of the existing structure, which would have created traffic delays and cost more overall.
The assessment said the option of ‘no change’ would not address the bridge’s safety issues.
The current bridge 80-feet above the Yellowstone River is part of the only road open during the winter to Silver Gate and Cooke City, Montana. Built in the 1960s, the structure was listed as a major priority of improvement during its last inspection.
The park’s environmental assessment said the bridge has widespread deteriorating concrete on the deck, sidewalks and parapets and that it would perform poorly during an earthquake. The three-foot-wide sidewalks don’t meet accessibility requirements and could create a safety hazard.
Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks closed Mar. 24 after local and state government officials said tourists coming through gateway communities could spread the novel coronavirus and overwhelm small healthcare facilities. A spokesperson said Yellowstone does not have a date set for reopening.