State parks officials have closed a pedestrian bridge over the Spokane River, blocking the most popular access to trails in Riverside State Park.
The suspension bridge will be closed until at least September, the state Parks and Recreation Commission announced Thursday.
The bridge hangs over the Bowl and Pitcher rapids at the park campground and is used by an estimated 144,000 people a year. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1941, it was renovated by the U.S. Forest Service in the early 1950s.
A $100,000 study showed the bridge no longer is safe, said Cleve Pinnix, director of the state parks commission. Rebuilding it will cost $250,000 to $300,000, state engineers estimate.
“We’ll reconstruct it so it has the same appearance” as the old one, Pinnix said.
In December, state parks officials warned that the bridge might be closed indefinitely unless money earmarked for a new Centennial Trail bridge were used instead for repairs. Local trail boosters balked at that proposal.
Contacted at his Olympia home Thursday night, Pinnix said the parks commission will pay for repairs from its own budget.
“What that means for us is that there will be some other project that won’t get done,” he said.
Pinnix said his agency has a list of repairs needed in state parks which has reached $34 million and grows each year. In a typical year, the Legislature provides only $5 million to $6 million for the work.
“Riverside is a really good example of a heavily used state park that has very old facilities,” he said.