FEMA Yet to Approve Funds for Flood-destroyed Bridges

FEMA Yet to Approve Funds for Flood-destroyed Bridges

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ST. GEORGE, Utah (AP) -- Eleven months after the January flooding, four trail bridges across the Santa Clara River in St. George still have not been replaced.

"We're not certain that we will be able to replace all four bridges, but we're working hard to do that if we can," said Kent Perkins, city leisure services director.

Deanna Brklacich, manager of budget and financial planning for the city, said the city cannot begin rebuilding the bridges until the Federal Emergency Management Agency has approved the funding or that funding could be jeopardized.

Brklacich said one problem is that FEMA will only rebuild to the pre-existing condition. Because the river channel changed during the flooding, the bridges may have to be built in a different location or with a longer span.

Some of the trails themselves may face similar problems because the flooding eroded the land on which the trails were built.

The city has to obtain easements or purchase land from surrounding property owners to rebuild those trails.

The city may also have to complete more paperwork if the bridge locations move or require work in the river channel.

Hurricane Katrina also took FEMA's focus away from St. George for about three months, Brklacich said.

However, two bridges on the Southgate Golf Club that washed out during the flooding were rebuilt this fall.

Those bridges were able to be completed more quickly because they did not require a new location and they were on ground owned by the city.

The golf course also is a revenue source for the city.

The Main Street Bridge, which is south of the Dixie Center and crosses the Santa Clara near its confluence with the Virgin River, is the next priority for the city, Brklacich said.

That bridge is scheduled ahead of three park bridges because those parks still must be rebuilt.

Perkins said the city is rebuilding Blake Memorial Park, which was only about 4 months old when it was destroyed by floodwaters.

Once a dike is constructed near Mathis Park, workers will be able to begin rebuilding that park.

The city still is waiting for approval from FEMA on some aspects of reconstruction in Tonaquint Park, Perkins said. But Bloomington Park is nearly complete and is open to the public.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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