Residents of the southern La Paz County community of Cibola can once again use the main route into and out of their community. The Farmers’ Bridge reopened with a ribbon-cutting ceremony March 19.
The bridge had been closed since October 2020 to Arizona Department of Transportation and county crews could rehabilitate the bridge.
Traffic to and from Cibola was detoured over California Route 78 to the Oxbow Bridge, 3.5 miles to the south.
When announcing the reopening of the bridge at the March 12 meeting of the La Paz County Supervisors, District 3 Supervisor Holly Irwin, who lives in Cibola, said, “I couldn’t be happier.”
The project was completed over a month ahead of the announced schedule. When the closure was announced in September 2020, ADOT spokesperson Garin Goff said the target date for reopening was April 25.
Goff said ADOT was administering the bridge rehabilitation project on behalf of La Paz County. The total cost was estimated to be $1.46 million, and included 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.
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.
“A huge shout out to ADOT for the amazing job and our Public Works for overseeing the progress on this rehabilitation project!” Irwin said on her Facebook page. “Everyone can go wash your cars now!”