$40,000 fix to repair bridge

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

It will cost about $40,000 for repairs to reopen an iron bridge northeast of Greencastle that has already been slated for a major replacement project.

The Putnam County Commissioners learned Monday that it could take a year or more before final design approval comes for the federally-funded project to replace Bridge 137, locally known as Crowe's Bridge.

Damage from a single-car accident in May resulted in closure of the bridge for safety reasons. That accident alone caused more than $27,350 to Crowe's Bridge. An additional $12,000 in repair work was already planned prior to that accident

The work on the bridge abutments and wing walls could begin this week, with the additional repairs to correct structural damage caused by the accident to add time to the repairs.

"It could be back open in a couple of weeks," Highway Supt. Dave Sutherlin told Commissioners Jim Baird, Gene Beck and Kristina Warren.

A traffic study last year showed the bridge handles more than 600 vehicles per day. Many of those motorists are taking a shortcut through the county to go between Greencastle and Bainbridge, Sutherlin said.

On the major project, the commissioners learned that the replacement project is mired in environmental and historical reviews.

"It's a very complicated bridge," said engineer Jonathan Moen of Floyd Burroughs and Associates. He requested the commissioners hire Weintrout and Associates to help resolve the historical issues by documenting the bridge and working with the state historic preservation officer. A contract for that historical study would be $8,485.

The commissioners approved that study, but they tabled a request to increase the engineering fees to get to the final design stage.

They expressed disappointment that it is taking so long to get the replacement project moving ahead. But that is the nature of such projects, Moen said.

"It's a very complicated bridge," he said, anticipating that the final design of the replacement may not be completed until 2008 at the earliest.

A lot of the hold-up is due to meeting the federal requirements on the project, which are tied to the federal funding for the replacement.

"We can't afford to do these projects on our own," Warren said, "and then when you get the federal money, it becomes a nightmare."

Moen said the engineers will keep pushing forward on the replacement project.

In other business, the commissioners:

  • Voted to purchase a new dump for the highway department.

  • Accepted a grant for $162,240 to purchase 40 additional 800 megahertz portable radios for police departments around the county. More than half of those radios will go to the sheriff's department, and the remainder will be spread among other police departments.

  • Agreed to allow an office at the county highway garage to be used for the construction manager on the emergency operations center construction project.

  • Heard comments from three candidates to fill vacancies on the county's board of zoning appeals. Shannon Lieb of Heritage Lake, Lora Scott of Roachdale and John Zeiner of Greencastle answer questions about their interest in the board and in the future zoning of the county.

  • Signed a contract for Jim Willison of Advanced Communication Design and Consulting to write the specifications for the radio tower to be constructed at the County Highway Garage for the new 911 Emergency Operations Center. His fee is not to exceed $32,000.

    The next meeting of the commissioners is set for 6 p.m. Monday, June 18 at the courthouse annex, 209 W. Liberty St., Greencastle.The meeting is open to the public.

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