Bleeding Hearts sets bridge cleanup

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(Photo courtesy RICHARD CAREY) A cyclist rides down the Long Bridge path while the Bleeding Hearts Tattoo crew and community members clean up the trash littering the walkway in October, 2018. Bleeding Hearts Tattoo, which adopted the two-mile stretch last year, will be holding the second biannual cleanup at 9 a.m. on Sunday.

SANDPOINT — As spring has made its appearance, so has the garbage and gravel littering the path along the Long Bridge.

The garbage on the path is not only unsightly to those traveling in and out of Sandpoint across the two-mile structure, it is a hindrance for those who enjoy strolls along the two-mile structure, including those who are wheelchair-bound.

The Bleeding Hearts Tattoo crew was inspired last year to adopt the section of road after learning that a number of handicapped people use the bridge, because it is one of the only flat paths in the area.

“A client of ours uses it for exercise,” said Bleeding Hearts owner Jon Bates. “She is wheelchair-bound and she was telling us how much junk there was out there.”

Bates and the Bleeding Hearts crew officially adopted the two-mile stretch in 2018 through the Idaho Transportation Department’s Adopt A Highway program. The first biannual cleanup by the team was held in October, along with about 30 community members who volunteered to help throughout the day. With the second bi-annual cleanup coming up on Sunday, they are again inviting the community to join in.

“We have just been really stoked — we have received a lot of phone calls and people just stopping just to say thank you,” Bates said. “The gratitude that has been shown from the community to us ... the response has been pretty awesome.”

ITD requires two cleanups each year, and Bates said it is nice that they have “absolute control” to choose the dates that work best for them, and to add additional cleanups if they want to as well.

The Long Bridge was originally constructed in 1908. Due to wear and tear during the World War II and post-war eras, the bridge was replaced in 1956 with a concrete and steel bridge, which is the section now used by cyclists and pedestrians. The existing traffic bridge was constructed in 1978. When going through the adoption process, ITD officials told the Bleeding Hearts crew that, to their knowledge, a cleanup had not been organized on the Long Bridge since it was built.

The Bleeding Hearts crew will be cleaning the path beginning at about 9 a.m. on Sunday. The group will meet at the north end of the Long Bridge. Pizza, drinks, and safety vests will be provided for anyone who would like to join in. Everyone is encouraged to bring the family and make a day of it.

Bates rented two push-behind blowers from A to Z Rentals and Sales, but anyone who may have useful equipment such as electric blowers, large brooms or an ATV should contact Bates prior to Sunday to see if they are still in need of such items.

“Last year we did a lot of moving gravel to the sides,” Bates said. “This year we are hoping we can end up with somebody out there with five-gallon buckets and a some sort of small vehicle where we can haul the gravel off of it, to continue to make it easier and stay better longer in the future.”

Cleanup information and updates are listed on the Bleeding Hearts Facebook page under events.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

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