Officials continue to work on the sudden and dramatic collapse of the ski bridge over Lake Mary Road in Mammoth Lakes. A forensic engineer will determine why the tunnel fell and construction crews will continue to remove the rubble to make way for a new tunnel.
Mammoth Town Manager Rob Clark said that Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and Speiss Construction, the company at work on the Town’s new bike path, hope to remove the old tunnel rubble by week’s end through their joint efforts.
The Town Council approved a local emergency proclamation that declared the collapsed tunnel a local disaster. Clark explained that this will help different agencies, public and private, to work together toward construction of a new bridge and tunnel. The Council okayed spending up to $100,000 on the project.
So, why did the bridge structure collapse? A forensic engineer examined the scene and will issue a report in a couple of weeks. Officials had confirmed that a loader had pulled onto the top of the structure prior to its collapse. Manager Clark said that while the loader may have had something to do with the structure failure, there may be many factors involved. That’s why a forensic engineer will make the call.
Clark said the tunnel and bridge actually belongs to Mammoth Mountain Ski Area and the Town holds an easement from the Forest Service. Clark said Mammoth Mountain will pay to have a new tunnel installed. He said later all parties will determine if there is shared cost.
The collapsed structure provides an area of passage for skiers going to Eagle Lodge. Clark said it is the Town’s understanding that a new bridge will be in place by Thanksgiving when Eagle Lodge is expected to open.
Mammoth Public Works Director Ray Jarvis said that he expects Lake Mary Road to re-open by Friday, October 17th.