Public Works News
Permanent Closure of the Old Chelan Falls Bridge
Posted By: Public Works on February 13, 2015
After multiple inspections and reviews by Public Works engineering staff over the past few weeks, the County Engineer has determined that the old Chelan Falls Bridge and access road leading from the parking area off of SR 150 must be permanently closed to the public. The basis of the determination is the high likelihood of future rock-fall onto the access road and the prohibitive cost and risk of stabilizing the large rock slopes adjacent to the access road in order to make the area safe for sightseers.
Based on engineering experience with other rock stabilization projects throughout the state, Public Works has projected the cost to stabilize the loose rock slopes to be between $5-10M, with a median figure of $7M provided to the Board of County Commissioners. The condition of the bridge, rock slopes and active rock-fall, the proximity of the Chelan River and erosion of the access road, as well as the lack of viable access to perform the work to stabilize the slopes, all combine to make a solution for these unstable slopes particularly challenging and expensive. With an already tight road fund budget and growing need to maintain and rehabilitate active county roads and bridges, dedicating funds to undertake a slope stabilization project for sightseer access to the old Chelan Falls bridge simply is not an option for the County.
In the near future the County and PUD will erect additional fencing and warning signs to prevent access to the old bridge site. Future plans include developing an informational kiosk and viewing platform within the current parking area north of the bridge so that visitors can learn about and photograph the historic structure and surrounding Chelan Gorge.