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Work begins on bridge for bikers, pedestrians

By Kevin Huelsmann, Jackson Hole Daily
March 08, 2013

Crews from Cannon Builders are getting started this week on a multimillion-dollar pathway bridge across the Snake River.

The Blackfoot, Idaho, company is setting up near the Emily’s Pond parking lot and will soon start to build the bridge, which will carry bicyclists and pedestrians across the river to a new park on the west bank.

Workers likely will spend the next several months installing piers in the river that will serve as the foundation for the new structure.

“For a while it may look like nothing is happening,” Jackson Hole Community Pathways Coordinator Brian Schilling said Thursday, “but they’re going to be out there six days a week for 10 hours a day.”

During construction, the area around Emily’s Pond will remain open to people who ski, hike and bike on the levee, but county officials have said there might be temporary closures when crews are moving heavy equipment or hauling gravel to the construction site.

“To the maximum extent possible, we’re going to try to keep access to the levee open to the public,” Schilling said.

The new bridge is the first part of a larger project that consists of a pathway from the Stilson Ranch parking lot across the Snake River just east of Emily’s Pond and, eventually, along Highway 22 and Broadway to the Flat Creek bridge in downtown Jackson.

The first phase of the project is expected to cost about $3 million. Cannon Builders’ bid was approximately $600,000 lower than what project administrators had estimated and about $1 million less than the next closest competitor.

Although the bid prompted some concern, town councilors and county commissioners decided to go with the company. The Blackfoot firm underbid three other companies that submitted bids for steel and river work.

The larger project is expected to cost upwards of $12 million, taking into account the estimate for a much lower bridge cost. Town and county officials have roughly $13.4 million in federal and state grants and specific purpose excise tax revenue with which to pay for the project.

Cannon Builders will have to keep a tight schedule to complete the project by the end-of-the-year deadline.

“It’s a fairly aggressive construction schedule,” Schilling said. “There’s not a lot of wiggle room.”

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