WYDOT: Snake River Bridge at Wilson has reached the end of its lifespan

JACKSON HOLE, WYO – The current bridge over the Snake River at Wilson has served us well for a great many years. The Wyoming Department of Transportation is looking at replacing the aging bridge as part of its redesign work on Highway 22, particularly its intersection with Highway 390. A public meeting has been scheduled this week to discuss the plans WYDOT has.

Snake River Bridge history

Before long it was noted that a bridge over the Snake River was to become a necessity rather than a wishlist item. The 15-mile trip up the west side of the Snake River in order to cross the Snake at Menor’s Ferry became a bit of a chore for most upon their arrival to the valley via Teton Pass.

The first bridge over the Snake at Wilson was built in 1915 with local labor and subscriptions under the management of Richard “Dick” Winger, who later became Jackson’s third mayor, serving from 1917-19.

This steel bridge was a truss-type bridge consisting of five sections which spanned the river some 130 feet between each span. It was the longest bridge in the state of Wyoming at the time. It was located some 450 feet upstream of where the current Snake River Bridge is now.

Barely finished, the bridge was wrecked in 1917. A flood of the Snake River washed away approaches on both sides. The bridge itself was still intact so work began on fixing these, and the bridge was back in service by 1922.

Then, in 1927, the massive Sheep Mountain landslide that had dammed the Gros Ventre River two years earlier, caused widespread flooding that reached the Snake River Bridge. The bridge was once again damaged, but was functional before too long. It continued to serve traffic between Jackson and Wilson for 30 more years.

Construction on the current bridge appears to have begun in September of 1958, according to research done by Liz Jacobson, formerly of the Jackson Hole Historical Society and Museum. It was completed in 1960. The resident engineer was a man named Johnson, and the contractor was a man named Peterson. The total cost of the bridge was $670,381.92. Its total length is 884 feet.

Snake River Bridge in 1923. (JHHSM)

Meeting about the new bridge

WYDOT will host a public meeting on the Snake River Bridge Replacement Project on Feb. 21 from 5 to 7pm at the SpringHill Suites Conference Room at 150 W Simpson Avenue in Jackson.

There will be a short presentation, followed by an open house format for questions. For those wishing to see the presentation, it will begin at 5:15pm. All others are encouraged to drop by anytime until 7pm.

The meeting will have information about WYDOT’s plans to replace the Snake River Bridge and improve the intersection of WYO 22 and WYO 390. Information will be available on the bridge and intersection project development and schedule, WYDOT’s Planning and Environmental Linkage Study (PELS) for the WYO 22 and WYO 390 corridor, and how the project design and public involvement process will rely on the work previously accomplished in this document.

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