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Squirrel bridge saves lives!
Located in Cowlitz County, Washington, Longview has a population of approximately 40,837 people and approximately 100,000 squirrels. Prior to the building of the bridge, several squirrels were killed attempting to cross the street separating a park from another area of the town.
Tenants in a nearby office building suggested the bridge for the squirrels in the 1960s as a way to keep the squirrels from being killed as they traversed the busy streets to and from the park in search of nuts. In 1963 the bridge proposal was approved by the city council, and it was designed by local architects Robert Newhall and Leroy Dahl and their structural engineer Donal Kramor.
The bridge originally cost $1000 to assemble and install. In spite of several attempts to invite the squirrels to the grand opening, no squirrels appeared at the grand opening ceremony. Ceremony attendees left nuts on the bridge for the squirrels, and the following morning a local resident reported being bombarded with peanut shells after walking underneath the bridge.
The bridge was named The Nutty Narrows Bridge, perhaps in a nod to The Tacoma Narrows Bridge located in Tacoma, Washington. The center section resembles a suspension bridge. The bridge was moved in 2005 after termite damage was discovered. It was placed in a traffic circle and quickly relocated from there due to the distraction to drivers.
In 2014, The Nutty Narrows Bridge was added to the National Register of Historic Places. We may never know exactly how many squirrels the Nutty Narrows bridge has saved, but one thing that can be certain is that squirrels are regularly seen teaching younger squirrels how to navigate the bridge and avoid being run over by vehicles on the main thoroughfares of the city.
Apparently, the concept has worked very well since the squirrel population in Longview is much higher than that of the people population.
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