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New zoo bridge shows creativity, cooperation
new deh zoo bridge pic
The new bridge at the south end of Britt Spaugh Zoo is in place and ready for visitors. Great Bend city employees finished the structure last week. - photo by DALE HOGG Great Bend Tribune

It took three weeks to complete and involved more work than anticipated, but the new foot bridge crossing the southern pond at Britt Spaugh Zoo is a thing of beauty.
“It really dresses that area up,” said Mike Crawford, Great Bend Public Works Department Street Division superintendent.
It features a black steel frame with wooden decking. It replaces the old concrete bridge.
“It looks great,” said Zoo Director Scott Gregory. He thanked the efforts of the city employees who made it happen.
Originally, the project involved removing the culverts over which the bridge was built, 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. They also wanted to leave the original handrails.
However, it wound up involving more. “We decided to start from scratch,” Crawford said.
After the concrete was removed, workers realized there wasn’t much left for them to build upon. Also, the railings had deteriorated to the point they were unsafe.
“This was all done in-house,” Crawford said, thanking city employees Dave Keeler, Dale Henning and Danny Reynolds. The frame was built in the city shop and delivered to the park where the wooden planking was installed.
“It just turned out fantastic,” Crawford said. The bridge design is based on bridges built by the city at Veterans Memorial Park.
This was a combined Public Works and Public Lands project, Crawford said. Even the Public Works Water Pollution Control Division pumped about two feet of water out of the pond and into a storm drain to make work easier.
The pond remains at the lower level. Gregory said some pipe work needs to be done before it is refilled.
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.
The new bridge meets AZA guidelines, as well as Americans with Disabilities Act requirements.
The old structure dates back at least 40 years, and had cracked and buckled over time due to repeated freezing and thawing.