The Methow Valley’s beloved suspension bridge got a much needed facelift this past month. Aging wooden towers that threatened the closure of the Tawlks-Foster Suspension Bridge in Mazama were replaced with high-grade, long lasting steel. Work on the upgrade took almost a month, but with little impact to trail users and just in time for skiing.
“All the work was done by locals, from the engineering, inspections, removal and replacement of the legs, and primarily all local materials” shared Rob Seckinger, Trails Manager for MVSTA. “This was an incredible effort, particularly by Jerry Palm and Palm Construction, to source the materials, provide the labor and complete the project at a level well beyond anyone’s expectations.”
The Tawlks-Foster bridge was built 19 years ago and is a critical link to the Methow Valley Community Trail. The bridge serves over 30,000 users annually which include skiers, walkers, hikers, bikers, horses, and even snowcats and snowmobiles for winter grooming operations. Solid wood beams gracefully shouldered thousands of trail users for years, however weather and time as well as limiting future maintenance costs necessitated the switch to steel. “The aesthetics of the bridge have not changed that much but the longevity has been significantly extended,” said Seckinger. “Most may not even notice the switch.”
Bridge repair and replacement is the Methow Valley Sport Trails Association’s largest trail expense. MVSTA maintains over 30 bridges throughout the trail system and will spend more than $500,000 in the next 10 years to keep those bridges open. The total cost of the Tawlks-Foster bridge project will be close to $84,000. Funding for this project comes from the sale of winter ski trail passes, private donations, a significant grant from the Washington State Recreation and Conservation Office, and from Okanogan County hotel/motel tax funds. “This project and the trail system is a powerful example of many diverse community partners coming together to support a valued community resource that has literally helped support them,” shared James DeSalvo, Executive Director at MVSTA. “A project like this required strong support from the Forest Service, Okanogan County, RCO, local land owners, local businesses, and our trail users and I am thrilled to see everyone coming together to create an iconic legacy for all of us.”
More photos of the project can be found here.