ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) - State engineers say the fire-scorched footbridge over Tramway Boulevard is structurally sound but it will need some major work before its safe again, bringing a long closure and a large bill for taxpayers.
A brush fire damaged the west side of a Tramway Boulevard bridge between Menual Boulevard and Candelaria Road around 7 p.m. Saturday evening. The fire forced the closure of Tramway until early Sunday morning, as an engineer from the New Mexico Department of Transportation reviewed the bridge's structural integrity.
State workers found no problems with traffic continuing to move underneath the structure.
"The drivers who travel underneath should have no fear that it's going to collapse because it's (the bridge) structurally intact," said Melissa Dosher, a spokeswoman for the New Mexico Department of Transportation.
While cars are moving freely, no pedestrian traffic will be able to use the bridge for several months.
"It's the deck that leads up to it that's burned and is not safe is going to have to be replaced," said Dosher.
State workers say the fire caused tens of thousands of dollars in damage, torching nearly all of the on-ramp, leading up to the bridge's west side. NMDOT says the bridge is now unsafe to walk on.
"Until we get it fixed, people should stay off it," said Dosher.
The bridge is now blocked off to public access on both east and west ends. Repair won't come quick either. NMDOT says the barriers will stay put for up to six months
"Hopefully, it will be closer than six months, but they're putting it at least 3 months," said Dosher.
The bridge fix has also scorched tax payers with a hefty price tag.
"We did a preliminary cause estimate and it's going to start at $100,000," said Dosher.
While fire investigators search for answers, AFD Chief James Breen says seeing the damage is disappointing.
"More than likely, this was a man-caused fire. It's currently under investigation, but people have to be careful with the ignition sources," said Breen.
Initial calls into police indicated that some kids were seen running from the scene of the fire. However, police and fire investigators haven't named any suspects or persons of interest so far.
The bridge is owned by NMDOT which says the closure shouldn't be too much of an inconvenience for pedestrians, as there are several other footbridges running across Tramway.
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