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Backwater Bridge over Cantapeta Creek as seen from near Turtle Hill on Thanksgiving Day.

A bridge that’s been closed for nearly two months because of possible damage during the Dakota Access Pipeline protest will be inspected Thursday to determine whether it needs repairs before being reopened.

The North Dakota Department of Transportation will take core samples on the Backwater Bridge and should know within a 30-day window of evaluation what repairs, if any, are needed.

The Morton County Sheriff’s Department and the North Dakota Highway Patrol will also participate in the inspection.

Backwater Bridge over Cantapeta Creek has been barricaded since Oct. 27, when protesters burned vehicles at the north end of the structure in an hours-long stand off with police, who were deployed on the pipeline side of the crossing. Since then, traffic south of Mandan on N.D. Highway 1806 has been diverted and anyone traveling to the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation or to the protest camps has been detoured to Highway 6. The bridge is located between the camps and the pipeline route.

In attempts to normalize the situation, state and tribal officials have agreed to reopen the bridge, pending a safety inspection, in exchange for protesters staying off of it.

The camps — once occupied by as many as 10,000 and now by as few as 300 — have been home to tribal and non-tribal people from all over the country.

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(Reach Lauren Donovan at 701-220-5511 or lauren@westriv.com.)

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