Chancy J. Gatlin-Anderson
Special to Colorado Community Media
The narrow Highway 86 bridge at the west end of Kiowa is in desperate need of replacement, raising concerns about its safety and structural integrity.
Town of Kiowa leaders met on Aug. 16 to talk about the future of the bridge, to connect with the Colorado Department of Transportation, and to discuss options to fund its total replacement.
In their official statement from Aug. 17, the Town of Kiowa outlined their overall concerns with the bridge and its safety:
“As we all know it is a very old bridge with questionable structural integrity and safety. Indeed, the continued increase of population and heavy travel back and forth over the bridge (i.e., large trucks) has expedited the need for significant repairs or replacement. We asked CDOT to consider not only this but also torrential flooding with the possibility of taking out that bridge and worst yet, the possibility for loss of life.”
In an Aug. 24 phone interview with Kiowa Town Administrator Kim Boyd, she shared her concerns about the state of the bridge, focusing on the impact of Elbert County if the bridge were to fail.
“We’re due for another big flood. If we get enough rain and a flood takes out that bridge, it’s going to greatly impact people,” commented Boyd. “It’s a major thoroughfare between the east and west side of the state. If the bridge goes, commuters add an extra 30-40 minutes to their drive.”
Kiowa leaders have been working with the Colorado Department of Transportation to discuss replacement and funding options for the dilapidated bridge. The current plan is to seek funding through the state’s Bridge and Tunnel Enterprise Program (BTE). The program was formed in 2009 as part of the Funding Advancement for Surface Transportation and Economic Recovery (FASTER) legislation (SB09-108).
BTE funding is limited and projects are completed based on need and priority. Currently, four years’ worth of projects are in line to be tackled. The Highway 86 bridge, however, will continue to be inspected on a bi-yearly basis as part of the National Bridge Inventory (NBI).
“Representatives from CDOT made it clear that they weren’t going to be able to do anything with the bridge for several years,” said Boyd. “If we make noise, though, they will listen.”
The Town of Kiowa has requested citizens to send letters and emails of concern to the town, which will then be funneled to CDOT. According to the town’s statement, they were encouraged by CDOT representatives to engage the citizens of Kiowa to expedite the process.
“The representatives we spoke with yesterday advised that municipalities that stand up and make noise will often more than not effect a move up the priority list faster,” said Boyd. “The town needs your letters and your emails telling us your concerns and objections to being pushed to the bottom of the priority list.”
Send any emails to:
Send any letters to:
Town of Kiowa
Attn: CDOT Bridge G-19-B Project
P.O. Box 237
Kiowa, CO 80117