TWIN FALLS — Turn off Washington Street South, and Victory Avenue will lead you to a humble bridge that spans the Rock Creek Canyon.
A conspicuous plaque beside a narrow sidewalk notes the collaboration efforts that made the construction of the bridge possible. The Victory Bridge was a joint funding effort by a U.S. Department of Commerce grant, a grant from the Idaho Department of Commerce and tax increment financing by the city.
City Engineer Jackie Fields said bridge construction projects happened more proactively in the past than they do today.
“Nowadays, our philosophy is we’ll wait until we’re dying until we build a bridge,” she said. “Because it’s expensive.”
But once constructed, they open up entire neighborhoods for development.
“The Victory Bridge specifically is really important because it provides more access to a destination, particularly that industrial area,” Fields said.
How it came to be
Although the Victory Bridge is newer than some other canyon crossings in the Twin Falls area, its history is more difficult to uncover. Idaho Transportation Department conducts inspections every two years, but does not collect history or traffic counts of the bridge since it’s under the city’s jurisdiction.
Thumbing through a file cabinet in September, Fields was still trying to sort through many of the paper files left behind by her predecessor.
What she did find was the Victory Bridge was constructed in 1991 as part of a larger economic development project on Victory Avenue. Idaho Frozen Foods, Lamb Weston Inc.’s predecessor, was a big driver of the project.
The bridge also provides secondary access to the southwest part of town for whenever its neighbor bridge about a mile away — the Old Towne Bridge — is under construction.
Improvements since then
The Victory Bridge underwent a major reconstruction project in 2013 when one of its abutments (foundations embedded in the canyon wall) was undermined and cracked.
The damage occurred after communication conduits went in just behind the bridge. Field believes that water got in the trenches, flooded them, and moved dirt to create a hole behind the abutment on the western side.
“Little holes are OK,” Fields explained. “Big holes are not OK.”
The city took the deck apart and filled in the holes to finish the minor improvement.
How it’s holding up
The most recent bridge inspection shows the Victory Bridge is in “good” or “satisfactory” condition. There are no projects planned for the Victory Bridge, but the city may soon begin collecting traffic count data.
“We’re hearing from people that there’s a big queue at 6 p.m.,” Fields said.
Fields couldn’t say what the designed lifespan was for the bridge, but did say she wouldn’t be surprised if it lasts 100 years.
“It’s nowhere near capacity,” she said.
According to the 2015 inspection, the bridge had annual daily traffic of 1,000 vehicles. By 2035, it was projected to see 1,500 vehicles per day.