County awaits bridge analysis

By The Mercury

The official results are still pending, but Bob Awerkamp is hopeful an engineering analysis of the Belvue Bridge conducted last week will be good news.

Awerkamp is owner of The Onyx Collection at Belvue and the person who urged the Pottawatomie County Commission to get an independent analysis of the bridge. He spent last Tuesday and Wednesday at the site during the engineering work and reported to commissioners Monday morning.

“The engineers were just a pleasure to work with,” Awerkamp said, noting the difference between the private engineering firm and representatives of the Kansas Department of Transportation who had previously taken core samplings of the bridge deck.

“These guys were explaining what they were doing and why they were doing it.”

Awerkamp showed commissioners photos of some of the 20 5-inch core samples taken by the engineering firm, as well as a 2-foot section of rebar recovered from a tie joint of the bridge deck.

“There is no rust on that rebar,” Awerkamp said, adding that KDOT officials had reported otherwise.

Commissioner Pat Weixelman, who was present for part of the engineering analysis, agreed.

“I was out there, guys, and the rebar and tie wire looked just like it did the day they put it in,” Weixelman said.

Results of lab testing of the concrete core samples, expected in several weeks, should reveal whether the 60-year-old span across the Kansas River east of Belvue can be repaired or needs to be replaced.

“If these (core samples) test okay, we’ve got a good bridge,” Awerkamp said.

Commissioners from both Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee Counties agreed to the private engineering analysis after representatives of the Truesdell Corporation inspected the bridge in November. Truesdell is an Arizona-based firm which specializes in bridge rehabilitation using a concrete polyester overlay process.

“Basically, the whole analysis will answer the question that needs to be answered: Is the lightweight concrete in good enough condition for our polyester overlay?” Mark LeMay of Truesdell told commissioners in November.

The polyester overlay would cost the counties anywhere from $1.5 million to $3 million, Truesdell estimated. The only other option is to replace the bridge at an estimated cost of $13 million.

In other business Monday, the commission:

• Endorsed a proposal by Leon Cline of the sheriff’s department and Bruce Brazzle, fire supervisor, to host a “fun day” for county employees and volunteers and their families.

“This would be especially for the volunteer firefighters,” Cline said. “This has been a tremendously crazy year and they’ve had to spend many, many hours away from their families and this would be a cheap way to say thank you.”

Cline and Brazzle said they are tentatively planning the event for Aug. 17, at the fairgrounds at Onaga.

“I’m all for it as long as you provide nice weather like they had for the Sampler (the Kansas Sampler Festival at Wamego),” quipped Commissioner Gary Yenzer.

• Heard a brief department update from Tim Eisenbarth, noxious weed director.

• Approved an agreement and final plat for Black Jack Estates Unit 2, subject to receipt of letters of credit from the developers.

• Entered executive session for 30 minutes with John Watt, county counselor, and Greg Riat and Shane Yeager, sheriff and undersheriff, to discuss potential litigation.

Commissioners took no action following the session.

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