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No one seems to know who owns this Denver bridge, but everyone's mad about it

The bridge has been closed for months waiting on repairs and its rightful owner to step forward.

DENVER — A pedestrian bridge in Denver is closed because it needs repairs, but repairs can't happen because no one seems to know who owns the bridge.

Denverite first reported on the frustration over the closure of the bridge that crosses Cherry Creek where Delgany Street dead-ends.

“It’s well-loved by both commuters and residents of the neighborhood," Jonathan Fertig said.

Fertig lives right next door to the old, iron railroad bridge that pedestrians and cyclists often used to access either side of the Cherry Creek Trail. 

"I haven’t used it much in the past year," he said.

The bridge has been closed for months, and it needs work. 

“I had heard that somebody stepped through one of the boards a while ago and that was ultimately what caused them to close it," Fertig said.

Repairs must wait until someone solves a mystery.

“From what we’ve heard, there’s sort of a question about ownership," he said. 

The City of Denver claims it does not own the bridge.

"For at least the last two decades, as far back as people here can remember, Denver and the Greenway Foundation have been operating with the understanding that the Greenway Foundation has ownership of the bridge," said Nancy Kuhn, spokesperson for Denver's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure (DOTI).

The Greenway Foundation is a non-profit that works to preserve Denver's rivers, and for several years, it's taken care of the bridge at Delgany Street and another old bridge right next to it.

As the non-profit was looking to make repairs, no one could seem to produce the paperwork showing the Greenway Foundation actually owns the bridges.

An attorney for the non-profit is currently digging into the question of ownership, according to Ryan Aids, executive director of the Greenway Foundation.

Kuhn said DOTI asked the city's real estate division and city attorney's office to see if an official ownership determination can be made. 

"We do not have a sense of the extent of repairs needed on this bridge or what our taxpayers would be taking on, so we want to do our due diligence first," Kuhn said. "That means clarifying/establishing ownership from a legal perspective and moving forward from there."

History Colorado dug up records for the bridge from 1988. The Historic American Engineering Record for the Delgany Street Railroad Bridge listed Burlington Northern Railroad as the owner, a railroad company that predated BNSF Railway.

The same records said the City of Denver proposed "the reuse of this structure and the adjacent bridge for pedestrian bicycle use."

"Ultimately, to me, the ownership doesn’t really even matter," Fertig said. "It feels to me like this should be owned and taken care of by the city because it’s a piece of public infrastructure, and so it should be taken care of like any other bridge.”

Fertig said he believes the city needs to be more proactive about pedestrian-centric infrastructure.

"It’s a little bit of an inconvenience, but it’s symbolic of a larger problem," he said.

For now, a bridge with no owner is as good as a bridge to nowhere.

“I’m hoping to see this open before the wintertime while the weather’s still nice," Fertig said.

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