Zorrilla Bridge

Renovations to the Zorrilla Street Bridge in Clifton got underway in March and are expected to be done in September.

The long-delayed makeover of a historic Clifton bridge got underway in March.

The 102-year-old Zorrilla Street Bridge, a 210-foot steel truss bridge on the San Francisco River, connects the Coronado Trail with Clifton’s Park Avenue.

Built in 1917-18, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

“It is one of the best causeways to be found in Arizona,” said The Copper Era and Morenci Leader when the bridge opened in February 1918.

Almost a century later, the Arizona Department of Transportation found the bridge structurally deficient. According to a 2015 report prepared for ADOT and the Town of Clifton, there were cracks and potholes in the asphalt — a 2-inch layer over a wooden deck.

Past attempts to fix the Zorrilla Street Bridge have fallen through — in late 2018, ADOT rejected the single bid for the project because that bid was over the budgeted amount — but in late March the work started at last.

“It’s a rehabilitation of the entire bridge,” Clifton Town Manager Rudy Perez Jr. said. “They’re replacing the wooden deck and the asphalt over it, repainting the entire structure and doing lead abatement.”

The 2015 report also brought up making Zorrilla Street one-way, but Perez said it would remain a two-way street.

ADOT is managing the $1.2 million project as part of its off-system bridge program. The Town of Clifton put in a 5.7 percent match, which came to $64,586.

The town also had to find $270,000 to cover extra construction costs. “Bids for the construction phase of the project came in $270,000 above the cost estimate,” said Perez. “According to the agreement we have with ADOT, it was our responsibility to come up with that additional cost.”

To meet that need, in December the town council approved using $270,000 in Highway User Revenue Fund money.

The Arizona Highway User Revenue Fund consists of money collected from gasoline taxes, vehicle license taxes, vehicle registration fees and other vehicle-related charges. HURF funds are distributed to counties, cities, towns and the State Highway Fund for highway construction and transportation.

Perez said the project was on schedule and on budget, and was expected to be complete in late September.

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