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ave Fritz, left, and Ray Krossman of the Kandiyohi County Public Works Department look at the bridge that leads to County Park 2 on Big Kandiyohi Lake. The bridge was recently downgraded from having an 18-ton vehicle load to just 3 tons because of pilings that are rotting. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

A bit of an emergency: Only bridge into County Park 2 no longer fit for many vehicles

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

LAKE LILLIAN — The only bridge on the only road that goes in and out of Kandiyohi County Park 2 on Big Kandiyohi Lake has deteriorated to the point that it is no longer safe for RVs and campers to cross.

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After an inspection by a structural engineer and deck rating study a few weeks ago, the short, one-lane, 18-ton bridge was downgraded to a maximum load-bearing weight of just 3 tons.

That’s about the equivalent of a fully loaded pickup, said Kandiyohi County Public Works Director Gary Danielson.

The commercial garbage truck, propane delivery vehicle, gas truck and other service vehicles that come to the park will not be able to cross the bridge in its current condition.

Fortunately, the camping season is over, but park managers Tim and Lisa Bailey live at the park full time.

Tim Bailey said the pickup he drives is just barely under the 3-ton limit.

Just because the bridge is considered “deficient” doesn’t mean it’s going to collapse anytime soon, said Ray Krossman, an engineer with the county’s Public Works Department. But the bridge is limited now to 3 tons and signs will be posted soon.

Danielson said solutions are being sought to resolve the problem, which he classified as a bit of an emergency.

“It’s not a good situation,” he said. “It’s a good thing it’s not July.”

Repairs or replacement of the bridge needs to be completed this fall so that it’s ready for campers next spring.

But contractors are busy this time of year and bids could be high. Because this project was not in the budget, the county is looking for an inexpensive option.

The problem with the bridge, which crosses Judicial Ditch 1, is that the old wooden support pilings are rotting.

It’s typical of timber bridges built 50 to 60 years ago all across the state, said Danielson. “All the pilings are going to pot at the same time.”

Typically, Kandiyohi County replaces timber bridges with cement box culverts.

But the minimum price tag for that would be about $150,000.

“That’s a lot more money that we’d like to spend if we can avoid it,” said Danielson, adding that it may be difficult to get a box culvert installed yet this fall, and in the spring there would be too much water.

Another option is for a “partial replacement” by installing new pilings and repairing the bridge deck, which Danielson hoped would cost about half as much as a box culvert.

Pounding in pilings could be done in the winter, which could mean increased availability of contractors.

“We’ve been trying to figure out how to solve it before it really affects people,” said Danielson. “It’s kind of an emergency, but we don’t want to pay emergency prices.”

The bridge is on the park property and therefore not technically part of the highway department’s budget.

County Administrator Larry Kleindl said he’s looking at ways to pay to fix the bridge. The project is not in the budget and capital reserve funds may have to be tapped.

A recommendation on how to fix and pay for the bridge is not expected to come before the County Board until next month.

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