Dangerous Ice Jam Could Close Lower Southfork Bridge

Dangerous Ice Flows Could Close Lower Southfork Bridge

Written by on January 24, 2023

The ice isn’t nice upstream of Cody, as a significant buildup could damage the important bridge crossing the Shoshone River and cause flooding upstream.

Park County Public Works is monitoring the Lower Southfork Bridge, a vital lifeline that allows residents of the Southfork to reach Cody. Once again, a significant ice buildup on the Shoshone River is causing some concern.

On Tuesday, Jan. 24, Park County Public Works indicated that it might close the Lower Southfork Bridge. While ice buildup is an annual occurrence, the height of the river – and the ice – might threaten the bridge’s structural integrity.

“Typically, the ice levels do not rise to the level of the bridge girders,” the Facebook post reads. “This is the second time it has happened in eight years.”

In March 2019, the Road & Bridge Division of Park County Public Works closed the Lower Southfork Bridge for nearly two weeks because of significant ice buildup. Thankfully, County Engineer Brian Edwards found no noticeable damage to the structural supports and connections once the ice subsided.

Ice buildup at Lower Southfork Bridge

Courtesy Park County Public Works

If the current ice situation worsens, the Lower Southfork Bridge could be closed to all traffic until the ice melts and the river subsides.

Ice uplift puts pressure on the structural supports of the bridge. That pressure can cause flecture and separation, possibly damaging the structure. W.Y.D.O.T. bridge engineers and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers are also monitoring the bridge to see if a closure may be necessary.

If the bridge closes, residents on the western side of the Shoshone River will detour using Road 6NS and County Road 6QS, crossing a bridge located at the bottom of Andy Martin Hill, then reconnecting to the Southfork Road. Residents on the east side will continue to have access along County Road 6QS.

Anyone with property along the Shoshone River upstream of the Lower Southfork Bridge may experience localized flooding while the ice flow is intact.

Because of the wedged ice, water flow is more restricted, which causes the river level to rise. In the past, this has caused localized flooding for properties located along the banks of the Shoshone River upstream of the bridge.

Property owners experiencing flooding are urged to contact the Park County Office of Homeland Security for assistance. Sand for filling sandbags is available near the bridge.

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