CANON CITY — The reopening of the Royal Gorge Bridge has been pushed back after City Council on Wednesday refused to approve plans for reconstructing buildings destroyed by a June fire.
Royal Gorge Bridge employees anticipated the preliminary drawings of the layout and buildings for the park designed by Denver-based Beck Group would be approved.
Instead of approving the designs, the council opted to put off a vote until its Nov. 4 meeting after spending about 45 minutes in executive session Wednesday evening.
“We’ve come to the conclusion this is moving too quickly and Canon City is not involved enough with what is going on,” said Dennis Weid, councilman. “We want to try to take a long look and what the park is going to look like instead of just getting it open.”
The city may consider pushing for temporary buildings so the park can reopen.
“This is probably one of the biggest decisions the city has faced since it built the bridge and we want to create something we hope will last another 100 years,” said Councilwoman Pat Frieda.
Royal Gorge Bridge Manager Mike Bandera was disappointed saying a May reopening is going to be pushed back later into the summer.
The council’s decision was just another disappointment for him on top of the realization that the incline railway will not be part of the initial reopening.
“We can’t find someone to refurbish it so to rebuild it as it has been the last 82 years isn’t going to be possible. Cost to rebuild it would probably be $6.5 million and that is still conservative,” Bandera said.
Bandera said the cost to rebuild the park amenities is going to be more than initially anticipated.
Plans presented to the city call for a $22.8 million phase one project featuring a 16,000-square-foot visitors center, a $1 million zipline and a $3.5 million aerial tram. The phase two plan calls for the $9.3 million in projects including the rebuilding of the incline railway, Bandera said.