Three historic bridges in Yosemite could face the wrecking ball in the future. Environmentalists want them eliminated to allow the Merced River to restore its natural flow.
The Stoneman Bridge is close to eighty years old. It's made of granite and provides a dramatic foreground to Yosemite's icon, Half Dome.
But this 205 foot bridge was built into the river just like the Ahwahnee Bridge and the Sugar Pine Bridge. Now Yosemite is considering five different plans to deal with the bridges and the river.
Greg Duimovich has been coming to Yosemite since the 1970's. "They're making it a little more people unfriendly so I think the bridge should stay. We've come over this bridge for 35 years on bikes. We enjoy it."
The Merced is a federally designated "Wild and Scenic River" and environmentalists believe the three bridges are changing its flow.
Paul Brunelle spent more than thirty years building bridges for Caltrans. He doesn't believe change is necessary. "Just from a first glance it looks like it's been adequate to do the job. In case of high water it seems to carry it all right. I don't see any signs of scouring."
The Stoneman Bridge is one of the most photographed landmarks in Yosemite. But a visitor from England welcomes the change. "If it's affecting the environment maybe the bridge needs to be changed in some way. The people can photograph the new bridge as the old bridge as well."
Yosemite Park officials say none of the plans are final. They stress the plans could be altered to spare some or all of the bridges. The public has until September to comment on the five different river plans. You can do that by visiting http://www.nps.gov/yose/parkmgmt/mrp.htm.
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