A light mist fell on a fog-shrouded Brit Spaugh Zoo Wednesday morning as a deftly operated mini-excavator nibbled away at chucks of broken ice and concrete at the park.
Work began Wednesday on what could be a week-long project to repair the foot bridge crossing the pond at the south end of the zoo. The structure dates back at least 40 years, and had cracked and buckled over time due to repeated freezing and thawing.
“It had one culvert and it was half plugged,” said Mike Crawford, Great Bend Public Works Department Street Division superintendent. “We are replacing it with two new culverts.”
This involves removing the culvert, the 17-foot-long and nine-foot-wide sidewalk across the bridge, as well as a portion of the sidewalk on both sides of it. “But, we’re going to try to keep the steel handrails” which will be repainted. The new bridge will feature six-inch-thick concrete.
“This is a combined Public Works and Public Lands project,” Crawford said. Even the Public Works Water Pollution Control Division was involved by pumping about two feet of water out of the pond and into the storm drain to make work easier.
Although the sidewalk will be closed during the construction, zoo Director Scott Gregory said that portion of the park is rarely used. “People will still have access to feed the ducks. It won’t restrict anyone from seeing any of the animals.”
The condition of the bridge created safety concerns which violated Association of Zoos and Aquariums guidelines. “We are on a big push to get accredited by the AZA. That is why we are doing this now,” Gregory said.