The town of Tenakee Springs is holding a fundraiser to replace a footbridge washed out in the torrential December rains of 2020. (Courtesy photo / Nicole Pegues)

The town of Tenakee Springs is holding a fundraiser to replace a footbridge washed out in the torrential December rains of 2020. (Courtesy photo / Nicole Pegues)

Tenakee Springs fundraises to replace washed-out bridge

With the birdge cut, residents on the far side have no foot access to town.

Torrential December rains that triggered fatal landslides in Haines also wreaked havoc in other communities across the Southeast.

Now, one town is seeking help to restore pedestrian access to residents isolated by a washed out bridge.

“We lost three bridges,” said Tenakee Springs mayor Dan Kennedy in a phone interview. “The Indian River (Suspension Footbridge) was the biggest one.”

The loss of the bridge cuts access save by boat to all those living on the other side of the river. The bridge was built in 1989, Kennedy said. The fundraising efforts, started by Tilikum Transport and channeled through a GoFundMe, have currently cleared $10,000 of a total goal of $15,000.

“It looked a lot worse than it actually is. All the hardware is still there. It’s mostly replacing stringers and decking,” Kennedy said. “It’s pretty crucial to the people who live out east of there so we’re trying to get on it.”

The bridge was wrecked by washout coming down the river from extremely heavy rains, Kennedy said, including trees, whose roots tore at the deck of the bridge.

“It was incredible. It just scoured things. I got a little weather station at home and it says we got 12 inches in 24 hours,” Kennedy said. “The amount of material moving down the drainages was like nothing I’ve seen before.”

While the damage isn’t as bad as it could be, Kennedy said, it’s not something that Tenakee Springs can repair out of its own resources. With the resources in place, the town will probably be able to replace the bridge relatively simply, Kennedy said.

“There’s a guy here in town who’s a pretty slick carpenter who says he can get it walkable in 4-5 days,” Kennedy said. “We’re actually pretty lucky cause all the main suspension cables and suspenders are in pretty good shape.”

Want to help?

People can donate at the GoFundMe or mail donations directly to:

Tenakee Springs City Office

attn Suspension Bridge Reconstruction Project

PO Box 52

Tenakee Springs, AK 99841

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