Some anxious for bridge verdict

By The Mercury

Pottawatomie County officials hope to know soon whether or not the Belvue Bridge is a candidate for a polymer overlay — at least in the eyes of the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Concrete core testing of the deck of the bridge which spans the Kansas River and connects Pottawatomie and Wabaunsee Counties southeast of Belvue was conducted by a KDOT crew May 6.

Although the county has received results of the testing, a recommendation by KDOT is still pending, Leu Lowrey, Pott County Public Works director, said Monday.

That recommendation could mean a lot of money to the two counties. If the core strength of the lightweight concrete in the bridge deck is adequate, a polyester concrete overlay at an estimated cost of $1 million may be a viable solution. Otherwise, options are limited to repairing the deck at an estimated cost of $4.5 million, or replacing the entire bridge at an estimated cost of $13 million.

This is the second time KDOT has tested the concrete strength of the bridge. Testing conducted last November suggested the concrete strength was not adequate for a polymer overlay.

A Belvue business owner, however, questioned those results and offered to pay for further professional testing.

Bob Awerkamp, owner of The Onyx Collection, Belvue, observed the most recent testing and returned to the commission Monday with similar concerns.

As he said following the November testing, Awerkamp suggested the location and depth of the core samples taken May 6 would not give an accurate measure of the concretešs strength.

“When the operator set the drill down, he asked the foreman if they were drilling two inches this time,” Awerkamp told commissioners.

“When I held up two fingers to indicate a 2-inch depth, he (the foreman) told me, ‘You have nothing to say about this.’”

Awerkamp said he later measured the depth of the nine core test holes and, as before, they were not drilled to the proper two-inch depth.

“I don’t want to be accusatory here,” Awerkamp told commissioners, “but I think there are some answers to be obtained that haven’t been obtained so far.

“There are hundreds and hundreds of bridges in this country built of lightweight concrete that have no problems,” he said. “There are thousands of buildings in the United States and all over the world using lightweight concrete.”

The commissioners thanked Awerkamp for his involvement in the testing process and left open the possibility of having further testing done on the bridge.

“This is a big, tough decision for us and we want to make a decision thatšs good for all taxpayers,” said Commissioner Stan Hartwich. “I want to make sure when I sign my name to something that five years from now a busload of kids doesn’t fall through that thing (bridge).”

In other business Monday:

• Jim Moore and Jeff Rosell, members of the Westmoreland City Council, addressed the commission with concerns about street damage and runoff caused by construction of the new Pott County Justice Center.

“We were asked by the council to come and make sure we haven’t been forgotten when the justice center is completed,” Moore said.

“Anything we damage I assume we’ll take responsibility for,” said Commissioner Gary Yenzer.

• The commission adopted a resolution authorizing the sale of $540,000 in temporary notes to finance internal improvements for Phase 2 of the Whispering Meadows Subdivision.









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