OGDEN — The remaining portion of a $5.6 million project to repair or replace three bridges through Ogden Canyon has been put off for a second time — but transportation officials say work should begin again next year.
In spring 2019, the Utah Department of Transportation began a bridge rehabilitation and replacement project through the canyon, aiming to replace one bridge structure and overhaul two others on State Route 39, the canyon road.
During the initial round of construction, the state performed major rehabilitation work on bridges located near the mouth of the canyon and at the far east end, near Pineview Reservoir. A third bridge near the Gray Cliff Lodge restaurant was to be completely replaced and rebuilt as part of the project as well.
But a pre-construction inspection of a house located 30 feet away from the Gray Cliff bridge showed that the home’s foundation could be severely damaged from vibrations created during construction activities. The home, which was located at 516 Ogden Canyon along the banks of the Ogden River, was built in 1908 and had a stone foundation.
UDOT decided the best course of action would be to purchase the property, relocate the homeowner and demolish the house — action that has since been completed.
Toward the end of 2019, the Utah Transportation Commission approved a funding infusion of $900,000 for the project, which according to commission documents paid for the acquisition and demolition of the property, the relocation of the owner, structural condition assessment costs and project delay costs.
With the house situation taken care of, the state had hoped to complete the bridge replacement this year, but as temperatures fall and with winter lurking just around the corner, transportation officials say it’s clear the project won’t happen in 2020.
Additionally, UDOT Senior Communications Manager Zach Whitney said the state had been unable to procure some needed materials for the project, due to COVID-19 related supply chain issues.
“They were basically unable to get some of the things they needed to start the project this year,” Whitney said.
According to a report from the Associated General Contractors of America, the novel coronavirus has caused significant construction project delays and cancelations all over the United States. The September report polled thousands of different construction firms from a multitude of sectors around the U.S. It found that 60% of responding firms have had at least one future project postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus. Another 33% of the firms polled said they’ve stopped projects that were already underway because of the pandemic.
“Few firms have survived unscathed from the pandemic amid widespread project delays and cancelations,” Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist, said in a press release accompanying the report.
Whitney said, right now, the state is planning to start and finish the canyon bridge replacement project sometime next year.
The canyon road provides an important link between the Upper Ogden Valley and greater Ogden metro area. The road is heavily used by those seeking outdoor recreational opportunities at places like Snowbasin, Powder Mountain, Pineview and Causey reservoirs and more.
UDOT says the bridge project will improve safety in the canyon and prepare for additional future improvements to the road.
The state has repaved asphalt and repaired potholes at the bridge near the mouth of Ogden Canyon, while doing the same for the bridge near Pineview. Work on the two bridges will extend their lives by 20 years, the state says.
As for the Grey Cliff bridge replacement, UDOT will install a new, wider bridge with 10-foot shoulders. The new bridge, which UDOT says will last at least 75 years, will also include improved site distance.