March 30 at 11 a.m. is the date and time at the Caliente Youth Center for a preconstruction meeting regarding building a new bridge across Meadow Valley Wash to the Caliente Youth Center.

County Commissioner Paul Donohue, chairman of the Board of Highway Commissioners, said the bid for the bridge work has been given. Expected cost of the project is about $1.9 million.

He said the county has obligated itself to do the detour road across the creek and can start that work on August 1 for an expected two-week period. “We will use in-kind labor to do that,” he said. Following that, construction work on the new bridge is expected to last from August through the end of January, 2017, weather permitting.

“The City of Caliente has already done some preliminary work in terms of moving power lines,” and Donohue said the Lincoln County Telephone Company will need to move some of their phone poles and cable TV lines in the area as well. “Right now, the lines are running parallel with where the bridge is going to go, and we need to move it at an angle to be out of the way.”

Donohue said the bid for the job came in at more than what the City of Caliente had to spend, “but the state Public Works Department has be working on reducing some of the costs, and that’s why we are going to do the detour road, which helps gets the project cost closer to what the final bid was.”

The new bridge will be in the same place as the existing one, but be built up a little higher.

Those traveling to and from the youth center will need to make a sharp right turn and go down the road behind Thomas Petroleum for about 100 feet to where the temporary detour road will be placed going over a few large culverts.

In 2005, a major flood washed out the bridge to Youth Center, meaning staff and students had to be evacuated by helicopter.

The new bridge will be built in such a way that future flood waters flow freely underneath and not be able to go over the top, allowing silt and other debris to flow past and further on down the wash which was deepened and widened a few years ago.

“It’s been a long, long time coming,” Donohue said. “I’m really grateful for all the work the state public works have done, plus the city and the youth center. A lot of people have worked really hard to get this and try to make this happen.”