An iconic single-lane bridge spanning the Snake River near Jackson, Wyoming, is being removed as has begun to build a new and improved bridge in the same spot within two years.
Swinging Bridge Road, aka Teton County Road 22-10, has been closed since Oct. 23 in anticipation of the bridge’s removal. That happens this week when contractor Reiman Corp. starts removing the timber deck running between the metal trusses.
Bob Hammond, resident engineer in Jackson for the Wyoming Department of Transportation, said the entire Swinging Bridge should be removed by early December.
“The schedule for the construction of the new bridge will last until June 2025,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “But with the new bridge going roughly in the same place, removing the old bridge is the first thing that has to happen.”
Lifespan Of The Span
The existing Swinging Bridge, a single-lane structure in place since 1960, has never swung. The name comes from an actual swinging bridge, the first to cross that section of the Snake River, built in 1938.
When the Wilson River Bridge was replaced in 1959, three of its five trusses were moved and placed onto concrete pillars and opened as the new Swinging Bridge. The original Wilson River Bridge opened in 1915, making the metal trusses more than 108 years old.
Hammond said the bridge was still structurally safe, but due for an upgrade. That’s why Teton County approached WYDOT about a replacement.
“This is a recycled bridge that was repurposed,” he said. “It’s seen its useful lifecycle and probably a little bit beyond that.”
Local history buffs don’t need to be alarmed by the removal of Swinging Bridge. Hammond said the contractor will use crane platforms to remove its trusses intact and haul them to a nearby storage area.
“(Teton) County will take possession of it from that point,” he said. “They’ll decide what to do with the bridge through their feasibility study.”
Bridge Replacement Off System
Most of the money for the new Swinging Bridge comes from WYDOT’s Bridge Replacement Off System (BROS) program. BROS allocates funds to replace or refurbish bridges owned by Wyoming cities, towns and counties located on roads that don’t receive federal aid.
“WYDOT helps counties replace bridges that are in need,” said WYDOT District Public Relations Specialist Stephanie Harsha. “It’s a county bridge, but WYDOT is overseeing the project.”
Harsha said Teton County approached WYDOT because the single-lane Swinging Bridge was no longer suitable for the area’s traffic and agrowing number of homes on that side of the Snake River. But the current bridge has close so the new bridge can be built.
“There’s limited access to that side of the river, and some people live there,” she said. “Because of the work area, the new bridge will be basically in the same place, so access to that area was closed.”
Hammond said WYDOT will cover 90% of the $10.3 million project, with Teton County picking up the remaining 10%. Once finished, the county will be responsible for the bridge’s maintenance and upkeep.
That means for about 18 months or so there won’t be a way across the river at that point.
The community on the far side of the Snake River is still accessible south of the bridge on Henry’s Road, Teton County Road 22-45, which intersects U.S. Highwzy 26/89/189/191.
In With The New
Hammond said the new bridge will have two lanes and a separate pedestrian pathway in addition to an improved design. The large concrete pillars supporting the Swinging Bridge trusses also will be removed.
Many Jackson and Teton County residents have expressed sadness that the historic trusses of Swinging Bridge will soon be gone. However, Hammond said the new bridge will improve sightseeing from both banks and the bridge itself.
“The girders will be underneath, so you won’t have any obstruction above the travel way,” he said. “It will be good for viewing the river and everything on it.”
Andrew Rossi can be reached at email@example.com.