by John Holler
SUN PRESS NEWSPAPERS
It’s been more than five years since the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis that was a slap of reality that the infrastructure of roads and bridges throughout the country were in disrepair. When the Jan. 29 Wright County Board agenda was announced it contained a resolution ranking the county’s most deficient bridges, it raised a few eyebrows.
While the listing does in fact list the bridges in most need of repair or replacement, County Highway Engineer Virgil Hawkins was quick to point out that none of the eight bridges on the list were in danger of collapsing. However, they are ranked on a scale that highlights which bridges are in most need of repair and what funding sources they are eligible for.
“Listing deficient bridges doesn’t bring along a lot of confidence, but they aren’t in danger of collapsing,” Hawkins said. “A bridge is defined as deficient when there are minor concerns resulting from safety inspections. They don’t pose safety concerns, but there are problems that make them more of a concern and in line for replacement.”
The list included eight bridges — four that would be on county roads and highways and four that would come from township bridge funding. All eight bridges are in townships — CSAH 7, CSAH 5 and 57th Street in Middleville Township, CSAH 2 and Rockwood Avenue in Southside Township, County Road 108 in Marysville Township, Meridian Avenue South in Franklin Township and 40th Street Southwest in Cokato Township.
Hawkins said that the I-35 bridge collapse highlighted the need for the replacement of deficient bridges and how pressed the current infrastructure needs are in Minnesota and throughout the country.
“Most of the bridges and highways we have in the country were built in the 1950s and 1960s,” Hawkins said. “Most of them are 50 or 60 years old and have reached the end of their life cycle. These are the type of bridges that qualify, because most of them are timber bridges that have their bases made out of wood. Over time, wood ages due to extreme weather conditions, but wood was the major material of the time used for bridge construction.”
The board approved submitting the list of deficient bridges to the Minnesota Department of Transportation State Aid Division along with cost projections for bridge replacement. Hawkins said that the county will likely learn early this summer which projects have been approved for funding.
In other items on the Jan. 29 agenda, the board:
ACCEPTED the resignation of Nancy Tallman from the Court Services Department and authorized the job search for her replacement to begin immediately. Tallman has served as the office manager in court services for 23 years and informed the department of her retirement effective Feb. 28. Court Services Administrator Mike MacMillan appeared before the board to make the request because such hiring processes typically begin at the personnel committee. But, the committee isn’t scheduled to meet until Feb. 13, which would likely end up leaving the position vacant for a month or more.
AWARDED the county’s 2013 rural street lighting safety project to Design Electric Contractors of St. Cloud. The bids were opened at the Jan. 15 board meeting and Design Electric’s bid of $138,786 was more than $41,000 under county estimates. Due to the federal safety grant funding involved, the county’s share is only 10 percent of the cost ($13,876).
ADDED an item to Feb. 4 Transportation Committee of the Whole meeting scheduled for Monday, Feb. 4. The item will debate the merits of whether to do a road preservation project on County Road 119 in St. Michael or to do a reconstruction project.
SET a bid opening for the CSAH 35 bridge replacement for 9:30 a.m. at the March 5 board meeting.
AUTHORIZED a meeting between the county ditch committee and representatives from the cities of Waverly and Montrose concerning County Ditch 38. The board appointed Commissioners Mark Daleiden and Charlie Borrell to represent the board at the meeting.
CONVENED the regular board meeting to meet as the committee of the whole to discuss the appointment schedule for the planning commission and the board of adjustment. The board reconvened to announce that it had reappointed Bob Schermann to a three-year term on the board of adjustment and appointed Dan Mol as the at-large position on the planning commission. One member needs to serve on both committees and Mol was selected to be that person.
AUTHORIZED attendance of Hawkins and Assistant Highway Engineer Chad Hausmann at the National Association of County Engineers annual conference April 21-25 in Des Moines, Iowa.
APPROVED payment of a $400 claim from the Buffalo Companion Animal Clinic for an appeal to a violation of the county’s Dangerous Dog Ordinance. The dog in question was put down after the appeal was heard and the county will attempt to recoup the cost of the appeal fee to the dog’s owner, which is part of the ordinance. Enacted in 2010, there have only been two appeals to the ordinance since it was adopted.
AUTHORIZED the county’s Wellness Committee to sponsor a kick boxing boot camp program for employees. The program is expected to run for up to six weeks beginning in April and will be held Mondays from 4:50 to 5:50 p.m. in the gymnasium at the old county jail.
Contact John Holler at [email protected]