Bigalow Road project passed sans shoefly

By The Mercury

Pottawatomie County commissioners Monday authorized immediate improvements to Bigalow Road, but opted to not include a shoefly around a bridge construction project on Westmoreland Road scheduled for this summer.

About 10 rural Westmoreland residents last week urged the commission to include a shoefly around the Wilson Creek Bridge project, saying that adjacent Bigalow Road is too hazardous to handle increased traffic from the project.

A shoefly, however, could add as much as 50 percent to the cost of the bridge project — estimated at $500,000 — and commissioners felt the money would be better spent making improvements to Bigalow between the city of Westmoreland and Highway 13.

“And we’ll have something when we’re done,” said Commissioner Stan Hartwich.

Last week commissioners argued that a shoefly — which could cost as much as $250,000 due to federal requirements — would be money “flushed down the creek” when the bridge project is finished.

Leu Lowrey, public works director, said Monday that six of the seven narrow drainage structures along Bigalow Road could be replaced prior to June 1, when replacement of the Wilson Creek Bridge is scheduled to begin. Replacing the drainage structures will widen the roadway at those locations, he said.

“If that’s the way you’d like to go I think we can get most of those drainage structures replaced,” Lowrey said. “I think it would be a good project no matter what, because there’s just a lot of people that use that road anyway.”

Lowrey estimated the cost of the materials at $70,000, and county road and bridge crews would replace the drainage structures.

“We could start immediately,” he said. “Most of those structures are small and narrow and could be replaced with pre-fab structures we have on hand. That makes it quick for us.”

A seventh drainage structure, located three-tenths of a mile west of Flush Road, will likely not be replaced prior to the bridge construction due to needed rechanneling, Lowrey said.

He noted, however, that there is ample sight distance on either side of the structure and cautionary signs will be in place during the construction period.

The Wilson Creek Bridge is just northwest of Westmoreland on Westmoreland Road. Bids for the bridge replacement are scheduled to be let March 22, with construction to start around June 1.

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