The Arden Bridge technically shouldn't be called a bridge, since there is no bridge right now fording the Little Pend Oreille River. The bridge, which traverses the river along the Old Arden Highway south of Colville, hasn’t been reconstructed yet.
The historic span was closed in 2011 after sustaining an undermining of its foundation from spring runoff.
Jason Hart Assistant County Engineer for Stevens County, said that work on the bridge is has been idled for the winter. The construction site is scheduled to re-open in March.
The bridge was built in 1917 when building regulations for bridges were not as stringent as they are today, according to Hart. Because of these lax regulations, the main pier was built of aggregate. When spring run-off caused the river to swell, the aggregate was worn off of the main pier, causing it to float.
The bridge became unsafe for vehicle traffic to cross since the main pier was no longer supporting the bridge. The bridge was closed and local residents have been forced to use detours.
“When the spring run-off occurred, the middle pier was scoured and was floating,” Hart said. “The bridge became unsafe for traffic and it was shut down in an emergency,” said Hart.
Even though the construction of the bridge may seem to be lagging, Hart said that it is actually right on schedule.
“It usually takes six years for an emergency replacement of a bridge,” explained Hart.
Hart thinks that the new bridge will be in place by June. He says that all the in-water work for the bridge has been completed.
Stevens County has already secured a $650,000 state grant to help cover replacement costs of a new span across the river.