KDOT forces county to shut down two bridges
Photo and story by Dennis Sharkey
The Kansas Department of Transportation has permanently shut down two bridges in the county after inspections over the weekend revealed major structural damage.
Road and Bridge Director Francis Hubbard said his crews put up barricades on the bridges this weekend after KDOT officials contacted his office. The damage cited was to the bridges’ underlying structural support system.
The old U.S. 24 Highway or Bridge Street bridge in Perry and a bridge located about two and one-half miles west of Oskaloosa on 90th Street are closed.
Hubbard said the bridge on 90th Street is too old to repair. The bridge was constructed around the turn of the last century. The cost to replace the bridge is about $360,000.
“I think we would be wasting money doing a repair on that,” Hubbard said.
There are four residences on the other side of the bridge. Hubbard said those residences had other means of access.
The bridge in Perry, that spans the Delaware River, would cost about $650,000 to replace.
In addition the bridge is listed on the state historic registry. Hubbard said once a bridge is designated on the registry it cannot be torn down and a new bridge has to be constructed next to it.
Second District Commissioner Wayne Ledbetter said the price tag on a replacement for the Perry bridge is too steep. He said it would be less than two miles for traffic to go around.
“It would be difficult to justify $650,000 when Thompsonville is less than a mile over back into town,” Ledbetter said. “That would be a pretty tough sell.”
Ledbetter requested that Hubbard look into whether or not the bridge can be opened back up for foot and bicycle traffic.
Hubbard said a traffic study conducted on the bridge last year showed that between 240 and 280 cars use the bridge each day.
In other actions:
• Curt Niehuas, an engineer with KDOT, made an offer to Jefferson County commissioners to sell the rights to two spur routes located in the county.
The two routes are K-276 in Williamstown and K-245 that runs between K-4 and the Meriden city limits.
Niehaus said KDOT would offer a one-time payment for the county to take over the roads. They will pay $200,000 for every mile of roadway. K-276 is about three-tenths of a mile and K-245 spans about one-third of a mile. The county would receive close to $130,000.
Niehaus said both routes are low volume roads and that they are a low priority for KDOT crews for snow removal. He said K-245 will receive a two-inch overlay this summer, however, nothing has been done to K-276 for about 10 years and there are no plans for any further maintenance this year.
Hubbard asked why KDOT does not approach the city of Meriden about annexing the road. Niehaus said that may be the next step but they wanted to approach the county first.
Hubbard said if the county took over the roads they would also be low on the priority list.
“That’s going to be lowball volume for us also,” Hubbard said.
Hubbard said the county spends about $14,000 a mile to chip and seal roads. It would cost about $8,000 to maintain both roads.
If commissions accepted the roads into the county system the payment would go into the general fund to spend any way.
“There would be no strings tied to the money,” Niehaus said.
Commissioners told Niehaus they will give an answer by the end of this month.
• Health Director Beth Brown said her department is ready to go back to the public with the results from a countywide health assessment that was conducted last year. The hope is to form a wellness coalition.
The first forum will be at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 7, at the Kendall State Bank room in Valley Falls. The next meeting will be the following Tuesday, May 14, at the health department in Oskaloosa.
• Daryl Chess has been appointed the temporary Emergency Management Director at a salary of $23,000 annually.
Chess will serve in the roll for at least the next two months until commissioners decide on a permanent replacement. Chess is expected to be a candidate for the permanent spot.
Last month Doug Schmitt resigned from the post to take a position with a fire department in Riley County.
• Recorder of Deeds Delia Heston reported that recordings are even with what her office did last year at this point. Through the first quarter her office has taken in more than $76,000 in revenue.
• Farmer Earl Stevens met with commissioners about issues he is having with a neighbor over a fence line dispute.
Stevens took issue with the way Sheriff’s deputies have handled the case.
Last week he said he called officers when his neighbor sat outside a shed holding a shotgun. Stevens said he felt intimidated.
Sheriff Jeff Herrig said his office has also gotten calls from Stevens’ neighbor about things he has done such as chopping down trees and knocking over survey posts.
The dispute is between six inches and three feet of space.
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