Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee county commissioners reached unanimous consensus Monday to move forward with rehabilitation of the deck of the Belvue Bridge.
The consensus was reached following a 90-minute presentation during which representatives of the Truesdell Corporation said the aging span is indeed a viable candidate for a polyester concrete overlay.
Truesdell’s Mark LeMay and Kurt Klink reviewed an engineering analysis conducted in April by Gannett Fleming, Inc., a firm based at Phoenix, Ariz. Commissioners authorized the analysis last November after an initial inspection of the bridge by LeMay and Klink.
For years, commissioners have pondered a solution to extending the life of the 2,000-foot bridge built in 1955, which connects the two counties just east of Belvue.
Monday’s proposal to rehabilitate the deck is expected to add at least 15 years to the life of the bridge and, in the near-term, save millions in the cost of replacing the bridge entirely––the only other option aside from closing it.
Truesdell estimated the cost to rehabilitate the deck at around $2.2 million, while total replacement has been estimated at $13 or $14 million. With the added cost of engineering, bonding and bid procurement, commissioners estimated the total cost of rehabilitation at $3 million.
Commissioners realized, however, that the polyester concrete overlay is not a permanent solution; that ultimately the bridge will have to be replaced.
“We’ve got to do something or they’re going to close the thing eventually,” said Stan Hartwich, Pott County Commission chairman. “I hate to spend the money, but this will buy us 15 years until we can build a new one.”
Other commissioners from both counties agreed.
“It’s quite a trigger to pull,” said Wabaunsee County Commissioner Jim Suber. “We’re going to need a new bridge at some point. We just can’t wink every time someone goes across it.”
Although Wabaunsee County Commissioner Rodney Allen wasn’t at the meeting, he has spoken in favor of the rehabilitation, Suber said.
“We’re here and we’re an aye…A-Y-E,” Suber said of himself and fellow Commissioner Ervan Stuewe.
Pottawatomie County will bear the financial brunt of any renovation to the bridge. According to state statute, counties joined by a bridge are to share the expense based on total appraised valuation of the counties.
At the current valuation, Pott County would be responsible for 86.54 percent of the cost, with Wabaunsee County picking up the remaining 13.46 percent.
On a $3 million bridge rehabilitation project, Pott County’s share would be about $2.6 million, with Wabaunsee County’s share at about $400,000, according to figures calculated by Robert Reece, Pott County administrator.
In its engineering analysis, Gannett Fleming studied the concrete design strength, tensile strength, active chloride contents and density of the lightweight concrete in the bridge deck.
“We have assessed the constructability of the rehabilitation and deem it to be feasible,” Gannet Fleming said in its report.
The report contained several caveats, however: that “a comprehensive design effort is undertaken; the work is carried out by a qualified contractor that specializes in this type of structural rehabilitation work; and an appropriate QA/QC (Quality Assurance/Quality Control) program is carried out during construction.”
Prior to adjournment, commissioners thanked Bob Awerkamp of Belvue for his involvement in the Belvue Bridge issue. It was Awerkamp, owner of The Onyx Collection, who first recommended the commissions seek input from the Truesdell Corporation to determine if rehabilitation of the deck was feasible.