Update: City closes another park bridge

A second pedestrian bridge has been closed in Wilderness Park following an inspection by Lincoln Public Works.

A 65-foot bridge over a tributary between Densmore Park and Salt Creek was closed due to bank erosion.  The bridge is on the south side of the former Rock Island railroad line.

On Wednesday, a pedestrian bridge in Wilderness Park above Salt Creek experienced some type of structural failure and dipped 12 to 15 feet in the middle. The center of the bridge is now about six feet above the creek.  

About 20 children from a nearby nature camp were on the bridge, most of them  elementary school age children. 

Benjamin Termaat is one of the campers who was on the bridge.  He says, “we just heard a really loud snap and it just fell.”

Camper Grace Barry says, “I was kind of nervous because I knew there were a bunch of little kids that could barely swim and that were not as smart as some of the older kids that were on the bridge.  My first instinct was to help them get off first.”

Camp staff took care of minor injuries, and no one was taken to the hospital.  Counselor Jennifer Tomczyk says “with all the rain we've had, erosion, you know, the shaking of just anybody riding a bike across it or anything probably added to it.”

Parks and Recreation staff are contacting all the parents to let them know about the incident. 

The cause of the failure is not yet known.  The bridge is about a half mile north of Saltillo Road and was built in 2003.

Former City counselman Curt Donaldson built it with the help of Olsson Engineering Associates.  He says not even inclement weather or all the people on the bridge should have caused the failure.

Mayor Chris Beutler commended the camp staff for their handling of the situation.  He also directed that three actions be taken: 

The City Public Works and Utilities Department has begun an immediate inspection of the remaining 11 trail bridges in Wilderness Park.  Most of those bridges are over smaller tributaries.  This particular bridge and one other in the middle of the park have been  blocked off. 

A complete study will be conducted to find out why the bridge was deficient. 

The City will complete a complete review of the pedestrian bridge inspection program. Parks and Recreation and Public Works and Utilities had already started the review.