Glacier Park Proposes Replacement of Swiftcurrent Bridge

By Beacon Staff

Park officials are proposing to replace the historic Swiftcurrent Bridge near the Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park.

Public comments are encouraged on a recently completed environmental assessment proposing to replace the bridge, which is losing its structural integrity, according to the park. Public comments are due by March 17. The assessment report is available online.

Park officials looked at two alternatives in the environmental assessment, either to replace the bridge or leave it as is. Through the analysis and previous public comments, the preferred alternative is to replace the bridge with a longer, single-span bridge, according to the park.

The deck on the existing bridge is severely damaged, and the abutments and piers are in disrepair, the park says. The bridge has limited capacity to handle high water due to the four interior piers. Other concerns include the severely deteriorated concrete curb and sidewalks, loose or missing stone masonry, and the non-code compliant suspension of utility lines on the bridge.

The Swiftcurrent Bridge provides the only vehicular and pedestrian access to the Many Glacier Hotel Historic District and the Many Glacier Hotel, a National Historic Landmark. If the bridge is not replaced, visitor access to the hotel and associated Many Glacier developed area would become severely limited and may eventually be prohibited, park officials say.

The Swiftcurrent Bridge is a contributing feature to the Many Glacier Hotel Historic District and has been determined to be eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places. Demolition of the bridge would result in an adverse effect to historic properties. The replacement bridge would be designed to be compatible with the historic and architectural characteristics of the historic district.

Public comments can be made directly online, or written comments may be mailed to superintendent, Glacier National Park, Attn: Swiftcurrent Bridge EA, PO Box 128, West Glacier, Montana 59936.

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