ITD Vault: 17 Years Ago
January 1998

Historic Ahsahka Bridge awaits new owners and creative reuse

Psst! Hey, mister, want to own a bridge?

If so, the Idaho Transportation Department has a deal for you.

The transportation department is giving away the 62-year-old Ahsahka Bridge spanning the North Fork of the Clearwater River to anyone willing to preserve the historic span.

Located on Idaho State Highway 7 between Orofino and Ahsahka, the bridge is being replaced this summer. The span is too narrow, too low and too old to handle today’s traffic.

But the old bridge still holds many possibilities for creative reuse, possibly by light vehicular traffic, bicycles or pedestrians.

Acquiring the triple-span Warren overhead steel truss bridge built in 1936 will cost you nothing. The transportation department will even dismantle the two-lane 525-foot-long bridge for you. All other costs associated with the bridge will be the new owner’s responsibility.

It is preferred that the old Ahsahka Bridge be reused in a manner reflecting its original purpose of transportation, but in the interest of preserving the bridge, it is not a requirement. The new owner will be expected to ensure that the adaptive reuse of the Ahsakha Bridge is completed in a tasteful manner in keeping with the bridge’s historic character and significance. The transportation department will review the proposals and forward the information to the Federal Highway Administration for final review and approval in association with the Idaho State Historic Preservation Office.

Editor’s 2015 Note: The presence of lead-based paint prevented any “adoption” of the old Ahsahka Bridge. The cost, and logistics involved, in relocating an old bridge are  significant. In fact, State Bridge Engineer Matt Farrar can only recall one successful bridge adoption, by a landowner adjacent to an old truss bridge in District 6 on Idaho 33 over Canyon Creek, east of Newdale, in 2006. The old bridge (pictured below) sold for a $1 to that landowner and was not moved. Farrar said the process for historic bridge preservation as depicted in the story “is essentially unchanged, but the reality and cost of dismantling or moving is expensive, and may not be without cost to the recipient. The bridges are typically deteriorated, and repairs are costly. Demolition is often the most cost-effective solution."




Published 06-05-15