The fate of the Belvue Bridge won’t be decided before spring.
Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee County commissioners have decided to wait for further testing before reaching a decision on repairing or replacing the deteriorating structure, which connects the two counties southeast of Belvue.
Core tests conducted late last year by the Kansas Department of Transportation indicate the strength of the bridge structure is not adequate to handle a new concrete deck or even a lightweight polyester concrete, Dave Meggers, KDOT research development engineer, told commissioners during a recent joint meeting.
Those test results have been questioned by Belvue business owner Bob Awerkamp, who reviewed the results with the Pottawatomie County Commission.
“I don’t believe that is a valid test of the core strength of that bridge,” Awerkamp said in November.
The KDOT core tests were drilled three-fourths of an inch deep, but should have been a minimum of two inches, he said.
Meggers told commissioners last Monday that KDOT could conduct further testing this spring when the temperature is at least 65 degrees, but he expressed doubt that additional testing would result in a different outcome.
Pat Weixelman, Pott County Commission chairman, asked Meggers whether the core samples could be drilled deeper than three-fourths of an inch since that depth would have to be milled off for resurfacing.
The new testing, according to Meggers, could be done over a two-day period, allowing one lane open to traffic throughout the testing period.
Commissioners from both counties have been discussing options for the Belvue Bridge, built in 1955. Options have included repairing the bridge deck at an estimated cost of $4.5 million or replacing the entire structure at an estimated cost of $13 million.
A third option of using a polyester concrete overlay has an estimated cost of $1 million, but depends on adequate core concrete strength to bond properly.
Meggers told commissioners Monday that KDOT will be using a polyester concrete overlay on a bridge at Kingman this year, but said the Kingman bridge is in far better condition than the span near Belvue.
Whichever direction the two commissions decide on, Pottawatomie County will be liable for approximately 86 percent of the cost, based on assessed valuation of the two counties.