Commission hears high cost for rural bridge
How much should a bridge cost which serves only a handful of people?
According to an engineer, a new bridge could cost between $155,000 and $405,000.
Marion County Commission and Dickinson County Commission met Monday afternoon at Ramona to discuss options related to the bridge both counties share one-half mile north and 1.7 miles east of Ramona.
Bob Chambers of Cook, Flatt & Strobel of Wichita presented information related to replacing the bridge.
He offered two alignments for the new bridge and new section of road. Alignment A would follow the section line and be similar to the current location of the bridge. Alignment B would be north of the section line with a gradual curve.
Alignment A would require additional easements because utility poles would have to be moved. The second option would require only one pole to be moved.
There also were four structure options discussed.
The first could be a low-water crossing. Pipe would be laid in the creek with the bridge built over it.
The second option was a steel, rolled beam structure, which would meet Kansas Department of Transportation’s requirements. The five-span, 240-foot steel bridge would be built on a skew. If Alignment B was used with this option, a three-span structure, 30 feet long, would be built.
The third option was reinforced concrete, which would require little maintenance and would be good for several decades.
Alignment A with this option would be a 240-foot bridge with pre-stressed concrete.
If Alignment B was used with this option, the bridge would be a shorter, reinforced concrete with a haunched slab.
“We would still have water over the road every three to four years,” Chambers said.
The final option was for the counties to construct their own “kit” bridge with a concrete or metal deck.
One of the problems the engineer faced with this design was making sure the water in the creek did not back up more than one foot. New construction cannot cause waterway problems elsewhere.
KDOT offers grants to counties to assist with construction of bridges, paying 80 percent and the county paying 20 percent. KDOT will not participate in a bridge project that does not meet its specifications.
When the engineer finished his presentation, Chambers recommended the two counties consider Alignment B and option three which 130-foot, three-span bridge at a cost of $548,900. KDOT’s share would be $403,520 and the two counties would split $145,380 or $88,682 for Dickinson County and $56,698 for Marion County, based on assessed valuation.
The cost would include the removal of the old bridge. Comments were made that the City of Ramona was interested in moving the 90-year-old structure to the city but the cost would be prohibitive.
All agreed the bridge currently being used is dangerous. There are weight limit signs on it but concerns remain that there are those who will continue to use it and be over the weight limit. At some point, something probably will happen.
Marion County Commissioner Randy Dallke said originally we were talking about $250,000 for the total cost of the bridge. Chambers responded costs have increased and even a regular county bridge now costs $300,000-$350,000.
Neither county is in the position to construct a sufficient bridge over the creek without additional equipment and labor.
Engineers estimate no more than 40 vehicles use the bridge per day. Local officials questioned that number, stating there might be a dozen vehicles or less per day and many in that count are of the same vehicle, using the bridge numerous times.
Dickinson County Commission members discussed what would happen if the bridge was removed and the road abandoned. What are the repercussions?
Since this was a work session, no decisions were made.
The six officials agreed — it would come down to prioritizing other bridges in the county and the true need for this bridge to be replaced.