The bridge in the town of Alcova is set to partially reopen by late Wednesday, the chairman of the Natrona County Commission said Tuesday.

That would allow people to go to Black and Cottonwood beaches and campgrounds on Alcova Lake for the Fourth of July weekend, Forrest Chadwick said.

"We're just tickled to death that we're gonna get to reopen this bridge for the weekend, or expect to have it open be it late tomorrow or mid-day Thursday," Chadwick said.

Earlier this month, the county restricted the load limit on the 60-year-old bridge to three tons after a June 3 State Bridge Engineer report cited the bridge's deteriorating condition.

The county then closed Black Beach and Cottonwood Beach campgrounds on June 15 because the only land access to those beaches and campgrounds is the Alcova bridge.

On Monday, the county announced it is contracting with HDR Engineering to find a temporary repair to bring the bridge back to a 12-ton limit.

Chadwick said the Wyoming Department of Transportation will allow restricted travel to one lane on the downstream side of the bridge. Traffic will be limited to 12 tons per vehicle, and hardly any recreational vehicles or boats will exceed that limit, he said.

Traffic will be monitored by a signal system, Chadwick said.

However, no such traffic signaling devices are available locally, so the county's Road and Bridge Department is going elsewhere to find them, he said.

The traffic signal be synchronized so a light will turn green at one end of the bridge, allow vehicles to move from one end to the other, and then turn red when all vehicles have passed. The light on the other end of the bridge will turn green for the traffic going in the opposite direction.

The signal system also will have sensors to alert if something goes wrong. That means someone will need to be available to check on it once a day. The county Parks Department will have people on-site at the bridge, but not round-the-clock, Chadwick said.

The bridge will not reopen if the traffic signals are not available and working, he added.

"It doesn't answer all the problems, for sure, but we intend to move right along with the building of a new bridge," Chadwick said.

A new bridge, from the time it would be authorized, will take 18 months to permit, design and build, Chadwick said. It will be designed to last another 60 years and bear weight loads of 40 tons, he said.

People need to be careful while crossing the bridge.

Otherwise, Chadwick encouraged holiday revelers to have a good time.

"Enjoy the weekend," he said.

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