Replacement of the Hawks Rest Pack Bridge has begun in the Bridger-Teton National Forest, and due to the nature of the work a helicopter is being allowed to ferry in steel girders.
Hawks Rest bridge provides equestrian and pedestrian access for Teton Wilderness visitors and access to Yellowstone National Park and the Washakie Wilderness. The 155-foot bridge constructed in 1959 spans the Yellowstone River and is in need of replacement after being evaluated by Forest Service engineers in 2016. Further analysis in 2019 showed additional cracking and deterioration of support piers and abutments.
The Blackrock Ranger District completed an environmental analysis in 2017, and the regional forester has approved a motorized/mechanized wilderness exception for portions of the project, including use of a helicopter and other motorized and mechanized tools. These are necessary for installing the large bridge components, and for removing large existing components such as steel girders, the Forest Service said.
All elements of the project that can be done by traditional tools and pack stock will be conducted in that manner. Helicopter flights are limited to several days where large components such as steel bridge sections and concrete abutments are being flown in to the site.
Due to seasonal weather, work must be done within this eight-week time-frame. There will be a temporary closure at the project site during that time, though a bypass trail will allow access through the site except during helicopter operations.