Colorado Bridge to RV Park Raises Eyebrows
Some might consider it Colorado's bridge to nowhere.
The "nowhere" in this case is an RV park on the west side that can be reached only by crossing the Golden Lane Road bridge, a narrow metal and wood span over Fountain Creek that will be replaced at a cost to taxpayers of $584,000, according to the Colorado Springs Gazette.
That's more than the value of the 3.4-acre property the bridge serves, the 90-space Fountain Creek RV Park, which the El Paso County Assessor's Office values at $475,000.
"It's a fair chunk of change, but at the same time it is a county responsibility," said Commissioner Sallie Clark, whose district includes the bridge. "We don't want to put a business out of business because it's not safe to drive on the bridge."
The bridge remains outside city limits, although everything around it was annexed years ago.
"I am defending it vigorously, because it happens to be a bridge in the county's inventory, and it's in bad shape," said county engineer Andre Brackin. "And based on the regulations, we can apply for the federal money. It would be foolish for the county to say we're going to give the money back and not do it."
Golden Lane bridge is one of three the county will replace using a federal grant, which is separate from stimulus money and will provide 80% of the cost.
The bridge will cost county taxpayers $116,800, with $467,200 coming from the grant.
It is among nine county bridges that qualified for federal replacement money, because they scored below 50 on a 100-point scale for structural adequacy, functional obsolescence and essentiality.
Golden Lane bridge, which has a posted weight limit of 38 tons, scored 44.8, lower than the 50 rating of the Minneapolis Interstate 35 steel truss bridge that collapsed in 2007, killing 13 people.
Brackin said Golden Lane Road bridge, built in the 1950s, has "very low traffic" but added, "Anytime we have a bridge in our inventory that can qualify for federal funds, we go for it.
"We put in for four, and we got three," he said. "We were lucky to get three out of four."
He said the Golden Lane Road bridge probably was funded because it's cheaper to replace than another bad bridge on Commerce Road that crosses Big Sandy Creek near Ramah, which carries a $1.5 million price tag.
Clark said the county has put off replacing the bridge, because it was likely the U.S. Highway 24 expansion project would cut into the RV park and negate the need for a bridge. But lack of funding has delayed the state project indefinitely, she said.
Commission Chairman Jim Bensberg said he opposed funding Golden Lane.
"In my view, that ought to be in the city, and then it's their headache," he said. "They selectively cherry-pick places they want in the city limits and exclude others. Piecemeal annexation is just not good government."
The RV park owner, Anchie Arada Fisco, could not be reached for comment.