AZTEC — Aztec has a new bridge — and a new path to the Aztec Ruins — but don't lace up your walking shoes just yet.
City commissioners are scheduled to vote on a time delay over the pedestrian bridge during a regularly scheduled commission meeting on Tuesday at City Hall.
The North Animas Pedestrian bridge is paid for, in part, by a $900,000 grant from the state transportation department. Commissioners have previously approved about $600,000 in city money for the $1.5 million bridge project.
The bridge connects to walking trails from downtown Aztec and from the Aztec Ruins National Monument on either side of the Animas River, just upstream of the Hampton Arroyo.
Gary Huffman is the project manager for RMCI, Inc., the Albuquerque construction company in charge of erecting the bridge. He said the project, overall, has gone smoothly, except for a few weeks when rising water levels in the Animas River caused work to be put on hold.
"It's a safety issue. It did cost us two weeks," Huffman said by phone on Friday. "We didn't resume operations till spring flows subsided, about two feet, to a safe level for remaining work putting in gabion baskets and riprap on the bridge's south side."
The gabion baskets were placed at a depth of 8 feet below the river's surface, he said.
"If we hadn't waited for the river level to go down, it would have washed all the work out and started a new channel," Huffman said.
Huffman said the bridge is done, and RMCI will spend the next few days removing its equipment from the river site.
"We're done, and that's it," Huffman said. "It turned out really nice. We had a couple of usual hitches for a bridge job, like lining up the 500-ton crane. Unless you own one, you operate on their schedule."
The crane, one of three used to erect the bridge, traveled from Salt Lake City for the project.
Next month, work will begin on an adjoining 525-foot-long walking trail from near the end of North Main Avenue to the bridge on the city's side of the river. The project is a separate one from the pedestrian bridge. A 1,150-foot-long walking trail that will connect the Aztec Ruins to the new bridge on the west side of the river is not a city project. Work on it will also begin in August.
Aztec City Commission meetings are held the second and fourth Tuesdays each month at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 201 W. Chaco St.
James Fenton covers Aztec and Bloomfield for The Daily Times. He can be reached at 505-564-4631 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him @fentondt on Twitter.