RONALD Okanogan-Wenatchee National Forest bridge engineers have put weight restrictions on two bridges in the Cle Elum Ranger District.
A 10,000-pound total weight limit for vehicles and trailers has been ordered for Big Boulder Creek Bridge on Fish Lake Road (Forest Service Road No. 4330), officials said. The weight restriction on the bridge 2.4 miles north of the Salmon la Sac Campground was ordered due to eroding abutments.
As a result, vehicles and trailers weighing 10,000 pounds or more are not allowed over the bridge accessing trailheads for Deception Pass, Cathedral Pass, Paddy Go Easy Pass, the upper Cle Elum River valley and Taquala-Fish Lake areas.
“Although many visitors drive vehicles that are below the 10,000 GVW limit, those hauling campers, travel trailers, and stock trailers where the combined weight exceeds the GVW will be prohibited from accessing the area until the bridge can be repaired,” said Cle Elum District Ranger Michelle Capp. “The weight limit restriction on the Big Boulder Creek Bridge has also forced our recreation managers to close all vault toilets located on Forest Road No. 4330 in the interest of public health.
“These vault toilets must be pumped several times each summer, and the septic trucks we normally contract with to service those areas are too heavy for the bridge.”.
“We have contacted numerous septic service companies and have learned that there are no pumper trucks available that are under the weight limit,” said Front Country Recreation Manager Brian Speeg. “We have explored every avenue and have found no acceptable solution.”
In light of the lack of facilities, recreation fees at the Tucquala Meadows Trailhead, which accesses Deception and Cathedral Pass as well as the Pacific Crest Trail, will be waived until the toilets can be reopened.
In addition, a 20,000-pound weight limit has been ordered for the Forest Service Road No. 4308 crossing the Cle Elum River.
That road accesses the French Cabin Creek area.
“It is unknown how long these weight restriction and restroom facility closures will be in place,” Capp said. “We are working with Kittitas County and seeking grant funding to repair the bridges.
“If the bridge abutments continue to erode or the structures continue to decline, there is a chance the bridges would need to be closed until repairs can be made.”