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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

South suspension bridge in Riverfront Park closes for ‘inspection and minor repairs’

The south end of the footbridge in Riverfront Park, shown on May 13, 2022, is now closed for repairs. Spokane Parks and Recreation is receiving a $1.4 million grant to fix the bridge.   (Jesse Tinsley/The Spokesman-Review)

The suspension bridge linking snxwméneɁ Island to the south bank of the Spokane River in Riverfront Park has closed temporarily.

The Spokane Parks Department announced the closure Wednesday on social media, citing the need for “inspection and minor repairs” on the bridge that was originally built as part of preparations for Expo ’74. The south suspension bridge, as it’s known, is slated for the same kind of renovations that shuttered its partner to the north for nearly three years.

Spokane Parks Director Garrett Jones said routine inspection of the south bridge indicated a need to close the structure and evaluate whether short-term repairs are feasible ahead of a planned complete renovation next year.

“We have some existing patches that were starting to break loose, and we wanted to dig into it a little bit further,” Jones said.

Jones said the evaluation likely will take at least a week, and then the department would move forward either with the repairs or keep the bridge closed. He said the department’s biggest priority was public safety.

The Spokane Park Board has approved an initial $58,000 contract with KPFF Consulting Engineers for design work on the south bridge. That firm also completed design work on the north suspension bridge before Garco Construction won the rebuild contract, which was completed in March.

Jones said a design had been completed for the south bridge, but the new contract would incorporate design work informed by the renovation of the north bridge.

“We had a lot of ‘live and learn’ moments when we did the reconstruction of the north bridge,” he said.

The department also is seeking up to $1.5 million in grant money administered by the state to complete the necessary work on the south suspension bridge. Park officials expect that work to include deck replacement, steel repairs, lighting upgrades and more.

Construction on the bridge renovation is expected to begin either this fall or next summer, according to documents approved by the Park Board. Construction would take place next year or possibly in 2024, Jones said.

While the bridge is closed, park users are encouraged to detour using the Howard Street promenade and the so-called “blue bridge” just to the east of the suspension bridges.

The suspension bridges connecting to snxwméneɁ, a Salish word pronounced sin-HOO-men-huh, were built in early 1974 – just in time for the opening of Expo ’74.

The Post Street bridge remains closed for an $18.5 million replacement project. That work is scheduled to finish by the end of 2023.

The Parks Department also is eying repair of the Don Kardong Bridge near Gonzaga University on the Centennial Trail. That project will be funded, in part, by American Rescue Plan dollars allocated by the Spokane City Council. Details on that project will be coming soon, Jones said Friday.