County applying for funds to fix bridges

Friday, March 23, 2012
Pictured is a bridge located at 225th and Valley -- the Inman and Beth Crossing -- that Bourbon County Public Works Supervisor Marty Pearson said is in need of repair due to normal wear and tear. The county plans to use money provided through the Kansas Department of Transportation's T-WORKS program. (Submitted Photo)

Bourbon County Public Works Supervisor Marty Pearson met with county commissioners to discuss and seek approval for county bridge and road work during the regularly scheduled County Commission meeting at the courthouse on March 16.

Pearson presented a list to the commissioners of about 13 bridges in the county that require structure and maintenance work.

"Some of the bridges we're trying to work on got some undermining and need some concrete put in so they won't be washing out," Pearson said.

This bridge, located at 200th Street and Birch Road, has been closed for a little more than a month because of exposure of the bridge's rusted culvert's and the possibility of them leading to a collapse. The bridge is one of about 13 spans slated for repair later this spring. (Submitted Photo)

The county plans to use money provided by the Kansas Department of Transportation's T-WORKS program to fund the much-needed updates. T-WORKS is a 10-year, $8 billion transportation program designed to create jobs, preserve highway infrastructure and provide multimodal economic development opportunities across the state, according to the KDOT website.

The county has $274,000 to spend from the program for transportation repairs. For some of the projects officials will have to hire and get bids from outside the area, possibly at a higher cost.

Regardless of the added cost, Commission Chairman Harold Coleman said some bridges in the county have gone "too long" without repairs because "we don't have the personnel, or the equipment to complete it."

Coleman said he traveled a bridge recently that should possibly be closed right now.

"We've been putting Band-Aids on (the bridges) for 10 years and the Band-Aids aren't working any more," Coleman said. "Everybody understands what money's like, but public safety and roads mean something, too."

Coupled with the recent rainfall that has nearly flooded areas in the region, certain bridges are becoming more hazardous than ever.

Pearson said a bridge at 200th Street and Birch has been closed for more than a month following an inspection because of the exposure of the culverts.

"They (the culverts) could rust and the bridge would collapse," Pearson said. "We've got to get it covered."

Other bridges that are in need of repair are located at or near:

* 225th Street, north of Hammond;

* South of Garland on the state line;

* 10th Street and Birch;

* Inman and Beth Crossing, 225th and Valley;

* And Noble Road and 225th Street, east of the Bourbon County Landfill.

The extent, price and length of time it will take to complete each project varies. Certain projects can be completed for under $5,000 while others must be bid out.

In his more than 20 years as a public works employee of Bourbon County, Pearson said he knows the bridges have been fixed in the pastjust not properly.

"Some of these we've fixed them before, years ago," Pearson said. "But we just put rock back and have had to be out there every three to four years. Hopefully using concrete, it won't wash away."

Depending on weather, Pearson said he would ideally like to start on the repairs in May.

Although the county took no action at the recent meeting, it has until March 31 to submit the projects to T-WORKS for approval.

Initially, the money will come out of the bridge fund, which Pearson said is around $75,000. The program then reimburses the county, based on receipts, for any money spent on the repairs up to $274,000.

Aside from bridges, Pearson said he also knows the county's roads need some work done. Referring to one road that needs to be raised to prevent flooding and another that "just fell apart," Pearson said he knows the "money is there."

"I'm just hoping the commissioners will let me," Pearson said.

Commissioner Jingles Endicott told fellow commissioners that residents around Fort Scott Lake also expressed some concerns regarding road issues at the most recent meeting of the lake committee.

"There are some potholes on the west side of the lake (residents said) and some thought the bridges' surfaces were uneven," Endicott said.

Commissioners said the county is "hopefully" taking the steps to start these improvements.

"I hope it it's getting taken care of," Coleman said.

In other business, commissioners:

* Approved a motion to proceed with the removal of hazardous materials from the county's Wade Aluminum site.

Commissioner Allen Warren said a site evaluation determined there are 8 cubic yards of hazardous waste that will cost the county $4,700 to remove. The rest of the material will be buried.

Warren said the county has made no plans to use the site yet.

* Approved waiving landfill fees for the First Church of God, 1115 E. Wall St., to remove trash from a house it purchased north of its location, commission meeting minutes said, and discovered "about 100 bags of trash in the sheds."

Commissioners agreed to waive the fees, Warren said, because they thought it was "the right thing to do."

* Brian Snyder requested the county close Willow Road, from 135th east to the Osage River.

The minutes don't state the reason for the request, or the length of time. Snyder was given a road vacation petition and the procedure to follow.

The Bourbon County Commission meets from 9 a.m.-noon every Monday and Friday at the courthouse, 210 S. National Ave.