Florence bridge needs immediate attention

Staff writer

County residents using the connecting bridge at Alfalfa Road over the Cottonwood River will soon need a detour when traveling to U.S. 50.

A fracture-critical inspection of the 126-foot bridge, located about two miles east and a half-mile south of Florence, found significant losses to bearings of concrete pedestals due to spalling.

Commissioners acknowledged Monday the bridge is the biggest structure in the county in bad shape, and there are not many options besides a total replacement.

“Our backs are against the wall,” Commissioner Dan Holub said.

The replacement is estimated at $680,000, of which 80 percent could be paid with federal assistance.

“I’m the type that I’d rather have something new than put a bunch of money into something old,” Road and Bridge Superintendent Randy Crawford said. “With the 80-20 money, we need to take advantage of that.”

Mark Johnston, associate vice president of Lochner, the engineering firm contracted to inspect bridges, said the worst-case scenario would begin with further failure of the bearings.

A chain reaction could occur, the bearings dropping the bridge’s truss onto its pier cap, making stability an uncertainty.

“It doesn’t need to be tomorrow, but it needs to be fixed sooner than later,” Johnston said.

Crawford said the next step is contacting CFS Engineers to discuss designs, which are already finished.

Commissioner Randy Dallke requested final price estimates in order to begin receiving bids.

Crawford hopes to begin work as soon as possible, which, depending on the contractor, could take nine months to a year to complete.

“It’s in bad shape,” he said. “It depends on the weather too, when they start building this, because a lot of the work’s going to be below ground.”

The commission also:

  • Accepted a higher tire bid from Rod’s Tire and Service for $29,408, because the low bid did not comply with the specified tires the commission asked for.
  • Approved and extended Marion’s proclamation for the state of local disaster emergency for flooding.
  • Approved a yearly bid for Florence’s trash service at the county lake for $400 April through October and $22.50 November through March.
  • Agreed to pay out County Appraiser Cindy Magill on her final day of work instead of the end of the month.
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