Longmont has closed a pedestrian bridge that spans the St. Vrain River in the Dickens Farm Nature Area because of what officials said has been “visitors of all ages” repeatedly jumping from the bridge into the water.
“Jumping from the bridge is a safety issue, as water levels in the St. Vrain can fluctuate hourly, especially during spring snow melt and runoff,” city officials said in a Friday news release. “Rocks, boulders and other materials also can shift along the creek bottom, creating unseen hazards within the creek that could result in serious injury or even death.”
The now-closed span is the easternmost pedestrian bridge in the Dickens Farm Nature Area along Boston Avenue between Main and Martin streets, behind the Harvest Junction North shopping center.
Officials said city park rangers and Public Safety Department staff “have made multiple attempts to discourage jumping from the bridge, including posting signs, increasing staff patrols, and speaking to individuals about both the safety risks and legal violations of jumping. Now, fencing has been installed to prevent use of the bridge.”
Public Works and Natural Resources Department spokeswoman Jennifer Loper said in a Friday email that the bridge was closed on Tuesday afternoon, after signs notifying visitors that jumping was prohibited had already been put in place May 30.
“I do not know whether anyone was injured as a result of illegally jumping off the pedestrian bridge,” Loper said, but both police and fire staff were informed of the situation, as were park rangers.
“Additionally, I have been told of other city staff who stopped while passing by the area and informed people not to jump from the bridge,” Loper said.
“I am not aware of tickets being issued,” she said, but she noted that the park ranger staff “is currently limited and have several areas throughout the city to patrol. Our primary goal is to educate nature area visitors as of the safety issues associated with jumping off the bridge.”
“Changing water levels, unseen underwater obstacles, and the potential of shifting rocks and debris all contribute to this being a very risky thing for someone to do. Enforcement is a secondary goal,” Loper said.
Public Works and Natural Resources Senior Project Manager Steve Ransweiler said in a Friday email that “rivers’ bottoms are very fluid and materials can appear very suddenly.”
He said, “While bridge jumping may seem fun and somewhat nostalgic, it’s just not safe and is not what was intended when we built the improvements at Dickens.”
Visitors can still access or exit the Dickens Farm Nature Area’s trail system via the western pedestrian bridge located behind the Pinocchio’s Incredible Italian restaurant at 210 Ken Pratt Blvd.
City staff will re-evaluate reopening the bridge as it becomes apparent jumping has ceased, officials said.
The high-flow portion of the spring runoff snow melt season has nearly finished, “meaning the creek will return to lower water levels and jumping is likely to lose its appeal,” officials said in the news release.