Wet canyon culvert damaged by flooding and debris flows

August 8, 2017 - 2:42 pm

For Immediate Release. The Coronado National Forest and the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) are working together to ensure the survival of the current highway bridge at Wet Canyon on SR-366 (Swift Trail).  This highway is the only road access to the high country in the Pinaleno Mountains (Mt. Graham and other high-country areas).  An active monsoon season has resulted in extreme flooding events from areas burned during the recent Frye Fire. Floodwaters and debris have exceeded the capacity of the area around and between the existing and old culvert/bridge at Wet Canyon.  This has damaged the current highway bridge and threatens one of the foundations. Loss of a foundation will result in bridge failure and loss of road access to the mountain. 

The only feasible solution in the short term is removal of all or the vast majority of the Civilian Conservation Corps-era stone masonry culvert/bridge at Wet Canyon.  The resulting clear stream channel will be able to handle stream flow, woody debris, and debris flows (moving flows of rocks, large boulders, wood and ash) with little to no further damage to the current highway bridge.  Prior to demolition the Coronado will record photos and measurements of the old culvert/bridge in conformance with emergency procedures as confirmed by State authorities with oversight of cultural resources.

Demolition is scheduled to begin as soon as Wednesday of this week.

Forest and ADOT personnel will make every effort to preserve part of the historic structure in place, if possible. At the very least, stones will be salvaged from the culvert/bridge for use in on-site repairs, or to repair other historic structures.  Forest and ADOT officials will engage with community members in the near future to discuss possibilities for commemoration of the structure.