Replacement of two Madera Canyon bridges begins Oct. 2014
Detour will allow traffic to proceed through area
Our partners in the National Forest Service Coronado National Forest recently announced that two bridges will be replaced in Madera Canyon.
Construction on the bridges, in the southern part of the canyon just north of Wrightson trailhead, will begin in early October. A one-lane detour several hundred feet in length will be provided for near constant, but reduced speed, access throughout the project area. The detour will be clearly signed and will operate by automated traffic signal, allowing one-way traffic through the area.
The two, single-lane bridges are being replaced because they are functionally inadequate and hydraulically undersized. The replacement two-lane bridges will be sized to accommodate vehicular traffic and expected streamflow. The roadway between and adjacent to the bridges will be realigned to meet geometric road standards.
The completed project will improve motorist safety and increase survivability of the bridges and roadway during high-water events. Completion is expected by the end of February, 2015, with exception of paving the new road alignment, which will occur in September, 2015.
Work begin done in Madera Canyon is the final American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) project on the Forest, capping approximately $14 million in ARRA investments in roads and facilities throughout the Coronado National Forest in recent years.
With lofty mountain peaks, forested slopes, seasonal streams, and an amazing variety of plants and wildlife, Madera Canyon has become a popular recreational destination. Madera's hiking trails are applauded throughout the Southwest, and vary from paved, handicap-accessible trails and gentle walking paths in the lower canyon, to steep, expert trails leading to the top of 9,453-foot Mt. Wrightson.
Southeastern Arizona, with Madera Canyon at its heart, is rated the third best birding destination in the United States. With fifteen species of hummingbirds, Elegant Trogon, Sulphur-bellied Flycatcher, Black-capped Gnatcatcher, Flame-colored Tanager, 36 species of wood warblers, and over 256 species of birds documented, it is a "required" site for all serious birders.
It is unusual to spend any time in Madera Canyon without seeing signs of wildlife. White-tailed and Mule Deer, rabbits, Wild Turkeys, and squirrels are regularly observed. Other animals like Black Bear, Coati, foxes, Ring-tailed Cats, Raccoons, Bobcats, and Mountain Lion are more shy and only occasionally seen. Sixteen species of bats have been recorded in the Canyon.
Because Madera Canyon and Madera Creek traverse four life zones and many habitats between the desert floor and the mountaintops, the Santa Rita Mountains in which Madera Canyon resides, has become a world-famous sky island known for its unique and abundant flora and fauna - from Prickly-Pear cactus in the lower Canyon to Douglas Fir and Quaking Aspen on Mt. Wrightson.
Please consider joining the Friends of Madera Canyon. It will provide you access to many interesting and fulfilling volunteer opportunities, but your best reward will be knowing that you have helped preserve a special piece of our Nation's wilderness habitat.
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