To preserve the historic Bundy Bridge that crosses the Yellowstone River near Pompeys Pillar National Monument, the county’s park board is recommending steps to stabilize the structure.
Park Board Director Cal Cumin said Monday the nearly 100-year-old steel truss structure needs work, estimated to cost about $85,000. The work would be done later this summer, after osprey leave a nest they’ve built on top of one of the spans.
The project will go before the county commissioners for approval during their Tuesday board meeting.
The park board, Cumin said, is proposing the first phase of a longer-term project to turn the bridge into a park or recreational site for tourists and locals seeking a place to fish, picnic or have special events.
The proposed work would include removing and disposing of the cracked and crumbling asphalt surface, removing the decking and replacing it with all-season decking and repairing and sealing cracks on concrete piers and abutments, Cumin said.
The first step, Cumin said, will be to take samples of the bridge planks to determine whether they contain toxic materials.
The Park Board also is recommending the project be overseen by Bill Oakey, a structural engineer with Design 3, who has already performed two studies on the bridge to assess its condition. Cumin said Oakey’s fee would be about $20,000.
Money to pay for the stabilization work would come from a county fund earmarked to maintain the bridge. Yellowstone County acquired the bridge from the Montana Department of Transportation when the state in 2001 opened a new concrete bridge just upstream.
The state was going to demolish the Bundy Bridge but paid the county $125,000 to assume responsibility for the structure. Bundy has been closed to vehicles since 2001.
The bridge, located about 30 miles east of Billings, was built in 1915 to serve rural communities. The structure is a three-span, riveted truss bridge. Each span is 190 feet long and 16 feet wide.
In February, Cumin encouraged the public to contact him with ideas for the bridge and set up an email address at firstname.lastname@example.org.
So far, Cumin had received no comments. “Not one. Not a word,” he said.