The trails in the Caddo-LBJ National Grasslands north of Decatur received a long anticipated improvement this week.
Work to install the Royal Gorge Bridge, which began last Monday, was completed Thursday.
“This is a considerable achievement for recreationists to access the TADRA (Texas Arabian Riders Distance Association) trails,” District Ranger Erik Taylor said.
But the bridge’s installation provides more than a path across Cottonwood Creek.
“It also reduces erosion on Cottonwood Creek,” Taylor said. “It was getting bad. But most importantly, it allows people to more safely cross the bridge.”
The bridge is located one mile west of Cottonwood Lake, on the yellow trail of the TADRA system.
“It will make for better recreation,” Taylor said.
The district ranger added the bridge was three years in the making.
After engineers, surveyors and archaelogists surveyed the land, crews proceeded with the dirt work to install the 9,000-pound bridge made of fiber-reinforced plastic.
“It’s easier to handle,” said Scott Johnson with Trails Unlimited, the federal entity that plans, designs, constructs and manages all trails for the U.S. Forest Service. “FRP are lighter pieces.”
The bridge was constructed off-site and transported to the Grasslands earlier in the week. It had settled and had to be pulled from the mud Thursday before a crew of four set it and installed the deck boards. Thursday’s work also included smoothing out the rock and approaches on either end to complete the installation.
“This will be great for horseback riders and really anyone who comes out to enjoy the Grasslands,” said recreation technician Scott Sibert. “We’re excited.”