Chaffee County Commissioners cut the ribbon Tuesday to officially open the new Granite bridge on CR 397. The bridge, which has been a topic of discussion for the Board of Commissioners since 2013, spans the Arkansas River at Granite. It was recently completed by Native Sun Construction.

Construction oversight for the county on the project was handled by engineering firm HDR.

The original bridge was installed in 1911 and is one of the few remaining examples of steel pony truss construction, a press release stated.

It is the only access to the Granite townsite, which was established in the 1860s and was an early county seat.

The rehabilitated bridge includes new decking, railings, trusses and stabilized abutments, but efforts were made to maintain the historical appearance of the bridge.

 The $4.1 million project included $2.56 million, $1.36 of which was provided by the Special Highway Committee, a cooperative effort between Colorado Counties, Inc., the Colorado Municipal League and Colorado Department of Transportation. The Federal Highway Administration provided $1.2 million. The county covered the balance from its capital improvement funds.

All three Chaffee County commissioners attended the event, as well as Mark Stacy director of Chaffee County Road and Bridge, Chaffee County Administrator Don Reimer, Ernest Jessop and Fred Barlow of Native Sun Construction, Mike McVaugh of HDR, Deputy County Administrator Beth Helmke and County Finance Director Dan Short.

Following comments by Commissioners Keith Baker and Greg Felt, Commissioner P.T. Wood cut the ribbon officially opening the bridge.

Baker said, “We really appreciate the engineering and design efforts that went into preserving the historic appearance of the bridge.”

Baker acknowledged the contribution of former county engineer Gary Greiner who served as project manager during his tenure, as well as those of former commissioners Dennis Giese, Frank Holman and Dave Potts, who were present during the early planning of the project as well as former County Administrator Bob Christiansen.

Felt noted that he and Baker had worked on the project for the 7 ½ years they have served as commissioners, inheriting the project from their predecessors.

Prior to the ribbon cutting ceremony, Chaffee County Commissioners held their Buena Vista Board meeting at which they unanimously approved the redirection of $49,000, previously committed funds, to support the Bill Cordova Memorial Park and Trail Project.

Cordova was a Chaffee County Fire Protection District battalion chief who died in a motorcycle crash in July of 2022. The park, named in his honor, is to be built in Sunset Vista, off of CR 321 (Rodeo Road), on a piece of lane between Grouse Road and Raven Way, west of Larissa Lane.

There are currently no public parks in the section of Buena Vista west of CR 321.

Funding for the project includes a Great Outdoors Colorado grant of $748,915, secured in 2023.

The park will include playground equipment, memorial art and benches, and a pavilion.

D.J. DeJong

Chaffee County Commissioner P.T. Wood cuts the ribbon Tuesday to officially open the new Granite bridge. Commissioners Keith Baker and Greg Felt reflected on the decade long planning of project and acknowledged the contribution of past commissioners and other county officials to the completion of the project. From left: Mark Stacy, Wood, Baker, Felt, Mike McVaugh, Ernest Jessop and Fred Barlow.