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KDOT, business owner disagree about Belvue Bridge strength

By The Mercury

Recent testing by the Kansas Department of Transportation suggests that the concrete strength of the deck of the Belvue Bridge is not adequate for resurfacing.

A Belvue business owner, however, questions those test results and offered to pay for further professional testing of the bridge deck.

“The first reaction to it (test results) is the bridge is junk,” Bob Awerkamp, owner of The Onyx Collection, told Pottawatomie County Commissioners Monday. “I don’t believe that is a valid test of the core strength of that bridge.”

Awerkamp presented the commission with results of “pull-off” testing conducted Nov. 28, by a KDOT team, but felt the 20 core samples were not drilled deep enough or at the proper locations to obtain a true picture of the concrete strength of the deck.

“You know the top half-inch (of the deck) is garbage,” Awerkamp said. The KDOT tests were drilled three-fourths of an inch deep, but should have been a minimum of two inches, he said.

Commissioners from both Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee Counties have been discussing options for the Belvue Bridge, an aging span across the Kansas River southeast of Belvue which connects the two counties.

To date, 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.

At a joint meeting of the commissions Nov. 19, Robert Nielsen of Kwikbond Polymers proposed a third alternative of a polyester concrete overlay at an estimated cost of $1 million. The Kwikbond option, however, requires good concrete for bonding, he said.

If KDOT’s recent test results of the deck’s concrete strength are valid, the Kwikbond option is not viable, Nielsen said.

“Based on the pull test results the concrete on the deck will not sustain an overlay. Our bond strength would tear the deck apart,” Neilsen said in an e-mail response to the KDOT tests.

He added, however, “I would assume that the cores were at a depth of two inches.”

Although Awerkamp offered to pay for additional testing, Pott County commissioners indicated that was not his responsibility and that investing in further testing would be worth the county’s expense.

“Thanks for your concern. You’ve given us another direction to attack this thing and I think it’s something to explore,” Commissioner Pat Weixelman told Awerkamp. “The state did the test, but they’re not the ones who are going to be paying for this.”

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