Swiftcurrent Bridge to be Replaced
Contact: Denise Germann, 406 888 5838
An environmental analysis and review process for a proposal to replace the Swiftcurrent Bridge in Glacier National Park’s Many Glacier Valley has been completed, and a decision was signed by the National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director to move forward on the project.
An analysis of the environmental impacts associated with the project and review of public comments on the proposal were considered before a final decision was determined. The environmental assessment was released in February 2014. Five comment letters were received on the proposal, all supportive of the project. Concerns voiced regarding impacts to concession operations were addressed and contributed to the final decision.
Bridge replacement work will begin in late September, after the Many Glacier Hotel and other concession operations close for the season, and will proceed through the first week of December. The project may be scheduled to occur 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The access road to the Many Glacier developed area and Many Glacier Hotel will be closed to traffic during the September-December work period. Masonry construction, roadway preparation, and paving required to complete the project will occur in late summer to early fall of 2015. This final stage of construction work will be limited to day-time hours, and access to the Many Glacier developed area including the hotel will remain open.
The Swiftcurrent Bridge, located at the foot of Swiftcurrent Lake, provides vehicle and pedestrian access to the Many Glacier Hotel Historic District and the Many Glacier Hotel, a National Historic Landmark. The bridge is losing its structural integrity; the deck is severely damaged, the abutments and piers are in disrepair, and the bridge has limited capacity to handle high water due to the four interior piers. Other concerns include deteriorated concrete curb and sidewalks, loose or missing stone masonry, and the non-code compliant suspension of utility lines on the bridge. If the bridge is not replaced, visitor access to the hotel and associated Many Glacier developed area will become severely limited and may eventually be prohibited.
The existing 75-foot, 5-span Swiftcurrent Bridge will be replaced with an 85-foot, single span bridge on the existing alignment. The interior piers and existing abutments will be removed, and new abutments will be constructed at the outer edges of the stream channel. Utilities will be reorganized and contained within the new bridge to reduce safety hazards, improve aesthetics, and comply with applicable codes. The replacement bridge will be designed to be compatible with the historic and architectural characteristics of the historic district. The new bridge will replicate two 9-foot lanes, a 3-foot wide sidewalk, and a 5-foot wide bridle path. The existing railings will be replaced with new railings of similar design to the historic, but with modifications to height and spacing.
The environmental analysis and the finding of no significant impact (decision document) can be found at http://parkplanning.nps.gov/SwiftcurrentBridge.
Did You Know?
Glacier National park was named for the glaciers that carved, sculpted, and formed this landscape millions of years ago. Despite the recession of current glaciers, the park's name will not change when the glaciers are gone.