OGDEN — Weber County will foot the $138,545 bill for improvements to one of the many privately owned bridges connecting the scattered residential developments of the Ogden Canyon to State Route 39.
Officials, though, aren’t happy about it. “This is one project I’m glad to have off my plate. ... This is one of those quirky little things,” said Weber County Commissioner Scott Jenkins.
Though the Wildwood Bridge, as it’s known, is privately owned, language in Weber County records dating to the 1960s or ’70s apparently obliges the county to cover the cost of maintaining the crossing. As such, county officials grudgingly agreed on Jan. 12 to cover the $138,545 cost of replacing the wooden deck of the aging bridge, which connects the Wildwood subdivision to S.R. 39, the winding road linking 12th Street in Ogden with the Pineview Reservoir and Ogden Valley.
That, though, will end the county’s involvement and responsibility going forward, officials hope. The Ogden Valley, according to Jenkins, is home to a range of homes, some “in shambles” and others in immaculate condition. “We have fulfilled our responsibility and we want no more of this. We don’t want this to set any type of precedent,” he said.
The Wildwood Bridge, also known as the Silver Bridge, crosses the Ogden River to a cluster of homes about 1.5 miles west of the Pineview Reservoir dam. It’s one of many privately owned crossings along S.R. 39, and concerns about its condition as well as the condition of another nearby bridge, Red Bridge, popped onto county commissioners’ radar screen in late 2018.
A Utah Department of Transportation official warned at the time that the two bridges needed work and county officials, in response, hosted a special meeting with Ogden Valley residents to gauge interest in creating a special taxing district. Funds generated in the district would be used for upkeep of infrastructure like the private bridges. Property owners weren’t interested, Jenkins said, but residents around Wildwood Bridge brought up the language apparently obliging the county to help with the structure’s upkeep, leading to the $138,545 outlay.
“Normally, I would be 100 percent opposed. This is a private development off a public road,” Commissioner Gage Froerer said.
Plans call for replacing the old wooden deck of Wildwood Bridge with a concrete deck. The work is to be done by Nov. 1, per the agreement with the contractor, J. Brad Barto Construction. A foot bridge will be installed to give residents of the 15 homes in the area access to S.R. 39 in the interim.
Responsibility in upkeep of some of the river crossings and other aging infrastructure in the Ogden Canyon, much of it privately owned, has been an on-and-off topic of debate over the years. The deteriorating conditions of some of the water lines connecting to homes in the Ogden Valley has been another issue. The city of Ogden provides water to the area.
UDOT is in the midst of upgrading three bridges through the canyon, portions of S.R. 39 that cross the Ogden River at different points. Those crossings are distinct from the private bridges connecting housing subdivisions to the arterial.