Residents of Cibola in southern La Paz County will be taking a detour for almost seven months to get in and out of their community. The Arizona Department of Transportation has closed the Farmers’ Bridge for a project to repair and refurbish the bridge. ADOT Spokesperson Garin Groff said the bridge was closed Oct. 1 and is expected to reopen April 25, 2021.
Traffic to and from Cibola will be detoured over the Oxbow Bridge, 3.5 miles to the south.
Groff said ADOT is administering the bridge rehabilitation project on behalf of La Paz County. The total cost is estimated to be $1.46 million, and includes replacing guardrail, reinforcing bridge abutments, applying a concrete epoxy overlay on the bridge deck, replacing asphalt pavement on both sides of the bridge, replacing the steel decking segment of the structure, and making drainage improvements.
A scoping letter from ADOT in November 2018 said the bridge was structurally deficient for the traffic it was carrying.
ADOT crews inspected the bridge Sept. 14 and 15, 2020.
Funding for the project comes from a U.S. Department of Transportation Arizona Federal Land Access Program grant submitted in July 2016 for $1,452,220. The required match from the county was raised from is $87,780.
The bridge crosses the Colorado River, linking La Paz County in Arizona with Imperial County in California. It was built in 1981 to replace an earlier pontoon bridge that was destroyed by flooding. Funds for the bridge were raised by local farmers, which is how it got its name. It is the only paved entrance in and out of Cibola as well as the only paved access to the Cibola National Wildlife Refuge. It is used by school busses and emergency vehicles to access Cibola, and it is the only road into Cibola that is wide enough for much farm equipment to use.
The deteriorating condition of the bridge has been a subject of discussion for the La Paz County Board of Supervisors. They took the bridge into the county’s inventory in 2012 after Public Works Director Tom Simmons told the board it would be easier to obtain grants for the bridge if the county actually owned it.