Pott County Commission votes to replace bridge

By The Mercury

Pottawatomie County Commissioners voted Monday to replace the Flint Rock Bridge near Louisville, damaged during June flooding.

At the recommendation of the Public Works Department, the commission decided to proceed with replacement instead of repairing the single-lane bridge.

“It’s not looking good. It definitely needs to be rebuilt,” said Gretchen Suarez-Pena, assistant public works director.

Pena noted several structural deficiencies caused by the flooding, including damage to a pier, cracks in concrete beams, and continuing settling because of erosion.

“That’s the only bridge between the Flush Road and (Highway) 99 to get across Rock Creek,” said Leu Lowrey, public works director. “It’s important to the farmers.”

Cost of the replacement is estimated at between $400,000 and $425,000, but the county is expected to receive about half that cost through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and state funding for damage caused by floods last summer.

The commission authorized the Public Works Department to solicit bids for designing the new structure, with a goal of letting bids for construction sometime this spring or summer.

The commission also authorized the Public Works Department to spend about $5,000 to install electrical timers in the county shop as a cost-saving measure.

The need to keep heavy equipment plugged in to keep the engines warm during winter months adds about $9,500 annually to shops’ electrical bill, Suarez-Pena said. Installing the timers and reducing the plug-in time is expected to save the department around $4,000 annually on its electric bill.

In other business Monday:

• The commission approved the appearance and design of a new metal building proposed by Polaris ATV, to be erected near the southeast corner of the intersection of Flush Road and U.S. Highway 24. The business will move from its present location near Feldkamp’s Furniture, just east of Manhattan. Entrance to the new commercial facility will be from Cassie Lane, just south of U.S. 24.

• Commissioners met briefly with Elizabeth Patton, district representative for U.S. Senator Jerry Moran, who said Moran wants to help city and county government address infrastructure needs.

Infrastructure needs on the county’s long-range radar include a bridge over the Blue River connecting the Flush Road with Marlatt Avenue in Manhattan to alleviate traffic on U.S. 24; widening U.S. 24 from two to four lanes from Wamego to Topeka; replacing the Kansas River Bridge near Belvue; and improving K-99 south of Wamego.

• Commissioner Stan Hartwich said municipal entities involved in the U.S. Highway 24 corridor study will be reimbursed by the federal government at least a portion of the funds invested.

Participants in the corridor study included the Kansas Department of Transportation, Pottawatomie County, and the cities of Wamego, St. George and Manhattan.

Hartwich said the announcement was made at a recent meeting of the Flint Hills Regional Council.

• Approved a $400 donation to the after-prom event at Rock Creek High School.

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