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Bridge Finally Links Campground to Oregon Dunes

January 16, 2012 by   - () Leave a Comment

Cross your fingers and repeat this mantra: If you build it, they will come.

Coos County Parks Director Larry Robison said he hopes that will be true as the finishing touches are put on a steel bridge that will provide direct access from the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area to Riley Ranch Park near the Oregon coast, the Coos Bay World reported.

The truss-style steel bridge is 190 feet long and 14 feet wide, connecting Riley Ranch’s day area and 50-site campground to the Dunes. The bridge, which cost $450,000 to build and another $220,000 to install, will allow park officials to eventually do away with their shuttle systems when it opens the second week of March. Money for the bridge and installation came from a special fund within the county, according to Robison.

The bridge was constructed by Big R Bridge Company out of Greeley, Colo. Big R Bridge crews put the bridge together in their warehouse to make sure it was constructed correctly, then tore it down and shipped it in six, 60-foot by seven-foot pieces to Riley Ranch. It took contractors about three days to piece the sectional bridge together.

‘This will hopefully bring more people to the park,” Robison said. “It now provides people with a direct access point to the Dunes. This is why the county purchased the park in 2001.”

Putting the bridge together, albeit no easy task, may have been the easiest part of the entire process, which was held up by lawsuits, permits and a non-motorized section of the forest.

Park officials had to find a way to get campers, hikers and people using off-highway motor vehicles, through the almost mile-long access road, which consisted of the non-motorized section and a railroad. Robison said this created quite the problem for park officials, who had to come up with multiple alternative routes and fight a lawsuit from environmentalists arguing the forest service didn’t have the right to permit use of OHV’s through a non-motorized section.

“It took a lot with the permits and the lawsuit,” Robison said. “Now anybody who wants to get to (the Dunes) can. We still have things to add on to make sure people stay on the access road.”

Signs, fencing and natural buffers will be added to the access road leading to the Dunes. Robison said that all classes of OHV, including full-size pickups, jeeps and horses, can access the trail.

There will be no fee increase at the campgrounds, and it will only cost $5 for all-day parking or $30 for a year pass.

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