By Philip Ronnerud
Although the Campbell Blue Bridge site remains a construction zone traffic is allowed to use the bridge. The Blue Road, which is about 3 hours from Clifton and serves the local residents, land managers, hunters and recreational users. The road is also the only year round access to the one-room Blue School.
To the best of our knowledge the Campbell Blue Bridge was built during the 1930s then improved in early 1950s. As most major drainage ways, the Blue River was used by native Americans and explorers. The European settlers improved the path to a road which became the route from Clifton, Arizona to Reserve, New Mexico.
The first historical record of the road was the creation of a Road Maintenance District in 1895. While the County has rights to use the road at this location (due to the topography) the road actually goes into New Mexico for about ¾ of a mile.
The storm on September 13, 2013 washed out the bridge, but the Greenlee County Board of Supervisors was determined to replace it. After dozens of calls and coordination meetings with multiple agencies; funding from the Arizona Department of Transportation was secured. The County asked Federal Central Lands, a division of the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA), to deliver the project. After several hic-ups, the development process commenced in earnest in late 2016. Preliminary concepts were approved, Environmental permits secured and final bid document were completed. For a project tied to Federal funding, this project moved at breakneck speed.
In September 2017, only 4 years after the bridge was washed out a preconstruction conference was held in Alpine. The FHWA, Country, Forest Service, and Contractor met to discuss the actual construction and visited the site. The meeting went extremely well and Westpoint, the Contractor, really stepped up and did a great job. A contributing factor to the short construction period was Big R Bridges provided a modular, factory assembled Bridge that significantly reduced the construction time saving everyone money.
Greenlee County held a ribbon cutting on Friday, January 26, 2018. About 60 people attended the celebration. The County owes thanks to many who helped get the bridge replaced. The local community is looking forward to using the Bridge for many years.