The Marais des Cygnes River bridge on the Flint Hills Nature Trail reopened Friday west of Ottawa, near the Second Street dam.
The bridge had been closed since being damaged by a Jan. 10 fire.
“There is still work that needs to be completed, but the recent warm weather allowed us to complete the immediately needed repairs and reopen the bridge,” Trent McCown, Kansas Department of Wildlife Parks and Tourism Prairie Spirit Trail manager, said in an email Friday. “Most of the other work will be off of the bridge walking surface, except for some minor paint and cleaning, which should not impact trail use.”
Flames burned into the bridge’s easternmost wooden support beams, Ottawa Fire Department officials reported the day of the fire. The cause of the fire was unknown.
“There is a human element involved,” Ottawa Fire Chief Tim Matthias said at the scene Jan. 10. “We don’t know if it was intentional or accidental. Hopefully it was an accident. It is unfortunate.”
After his initial inspection, McCown said in an earlier interview the bridge appeared to be structurally sound.
“There were some large timbers on the east end that ended up catching fire and burning,” McCown said. “However, on the main timbers — these are large beams — there appears to be only surface charring. Because they are such large, thick beams, they are able to withstand a lot of fire.”
As part of the repair work, damaged concrete was patched to eliminate a trip hazard and some older graffiti was removed from the bench and rails, McCown said Friday.
Chief Matthias called the original railroad bridge — which was converted for trail use — is one of the area’s treasures.
“They took off the rail and added some substructure and put a concrete deck on top of it,” Matthias said. “You can go out there and look at the water. It is a really nice bridge.”