New Alaska park bridge aimed at limiting bear encounters
Brown bears in the Brooks River try to catch salmon in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska on July 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Mark Thiessen)

Associated Press
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – Alaska’s newest bridge is aimed at relieving a traffic jam between people and brown bears.

The National Park Service has completed a $5.6 million elevated bridge and boardwalk across the Brooks River in Katmai National Park and Preserve that replaces a river-level bridge often closed to human traffic because it was occupied by brown bears.

Bears catching salmon are a huge draw for the Alaska Peninsula park. The park service estimates 2,200 brown bears inhabit the park.

A popular venue is Brooks Camp, where the park has three bear-viewing platforms. Visitors must cross the river to reach all three platforms.

Park Service spokeswoman Karen Garthwait says the old bridge frequently closed when there was a “bear jam.”

The Park Service plans a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the bridge on June 29.