Historic Bridge to be dwarfed by a higher, modern viaduct

Photos taken by Craig Philpott

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SMITHFLAT (EL DORADO COUNTY), CALIFORNIA- Our next stop on the bridgehunting tour is the Mosquito Road Bridge in El Dorado County, California. Spanning the South Fork American River north of Smithflat, this suspension bridge is very characteristic for its unusual design. It’s a towerless suspension bridge, which means the cables supporting the trussed roadway is anchored by mini-towers that are on the rocks on both sides of the river. Some photos and a film of the contraption will show you what it looks like. The bridge has a wooden deck but approaching the bridge from either side is dangerous because of the steep hills and curves drivers have to endure in order to cross the 245-foot span. The suspension bridge was built in 1939, yet its history goes a lot further back than that, with records of it being built in 1914 and even 40 years earlier.

But times are changing and with that, a new bridge is about to be built. According to county officials, construction will soon begin on a new bridge, which will take two years to complete. It will be three times as long as the suspension bridge and 400 feet higher. A rendering of what the new bridge will look like can be found in the video below.

Unlike most bridge replacements, this one will be a win-win situation. While the new bridge will provide a straighter road going across the bridge with drivers getting a spectacular view of the deep river valley, they will still be treated by the suspension bridge down below that will remain in place and still in use. The suspension bridge is on the National Register for its unique design built during the Works Progress Administration era and like before the bridge, after the bridge, it will still be used for recreation and fishing. For the county with a variety of pre-1950 concrete arch, slabs and steel truss bridges, this project will be of great benefit with regards to tourism.