People seeking recreation at Eklutna Lake or Thunderbird Falls, as well as residents of Thunderbird Heights Subdivision and Eklutna Village, received a much awaited transportation improvement this past June with the opening of the Eklutna River bridge on the Old Glenn Highway. The previous bridge closed in May 2012 after municipal and state officials declared it was unsafe.
A 2010 study identified several structural issues and in Jan. 2012, the local road service board recommended closing the bridge. Municipal officials concurred in early May 2012 stating that the guard rails did not meet safety standards.
Funded by a state grant and completed through a partnership between the Municipality of Anchorage and the Alaska Department of Transportation Bridge Design Section, the bridge cost about $10 million to design and build. The grand opening and ribbon cutting was held on June 14, with Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz and Chugiak Senator Bill Stoltze among the dignitaries attending the event.
The new bridge across the Eklutna River replaces the 257-foot steel arch bridge built in 1935, which was originally one-lane but widened and improved in subsequent years.
The project team for the new bridge included: Bettisworth North Architects and Planners, Inc., landscape architect; Kinney Engineering, LLC, traffic analysis; Nortech, Inc., hazardous materials testing and disposal planning; Northern Land Use Research Alaska, historic documentation; R & M Consultants, Inc., designer; and Sandstrom & Sons, Inc., contractor.