9 West Valley View, Avondale, Arizona, Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Historic bridge gets a makeover
by Brent Whiting staff writer
Work is nearly finished on a $5.3 million project to rehabilitate the historic Gillespie Dam Bridge south of Arlington in the far Southwest Valley.
In early December last year, efforts were launched to repair the nearly 85-year-old structure, also known as the Historic Old U.S. 80 Gila River Bridge. Plans are now being made for a re-dedication ceremony this fall, said Roberta Crowe, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Department of Transportation, the project leader.
In the meantime, a new “Interpretive Plaza” has been completed on the west side of the bridge, Crowe said.
paved parking, a scenic overlook and informational plaques about the bridge and its historical significance, she said. Furthermore, there is an informational
The steel-truss span is about eight miles southeast of the Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station and between Buckeye Hills and the Gila Bend Mountains. The bridge rests on concrete piers and
It features a circular ramada and offers
marker about the abundant wildlife to be found along the Gila River that flows under the bridge, which is 1,662 feet long, or more than five football fields.
was built in 1927, providing a vital link in the nation’s former coast-to-coast highway system, Crowe said. Mary Rose Wilcox, a member of the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors, described the bridge rehabilitation work as a wonderful project for 2012, the centennial of Arizona statehood. Wilcox, whose District 5 includes the bridge area, added, “It turns our eyes toward history. It helps us remember the people who helped build this state.” The bridge rehabilitation work focused
on a variety of repairs, including the heat- straightening of damaged and bent steel members, county officials said. The work also included the replacement of rusted, non-functioning roller bearings
IN EARLY DECEMBER LAST YEAR, the Maricopa County Department of Transportation began a project to restore the nearly 85-year-old Gillespie Dam Bridge. This photo shows the bridge before the $5.3 million project was launched.
below the bridge deck to accommodate the expansion and contraction of steel spans during changes in temperature. Furthermore, there were pipe rail and
sway bracing repairs, installation of new approach guard railings, concrete repairs,
reinforcement of bridge piers, including scour protection, and the repaving of roadway approaches at each end of the bridge, officials said.
The bridge is 19-feet wide, which is wide enough for two-way traffic involving
passenger cars, but not for two-way traffic involving trucks and farm vehicles. When larger vehicles use the bridge, oncoming traffic must wait because the span is not wide enough for vehicles to pass each other in the narrow lanes.
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