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Commissioners get an up-close look at bridge construction work

Construction crews worked Monday on this bridge project near Nest Lake. The Kandiyohi County commissioners toured road and bridge projects that are underway throughout the county. Tribune photo by Carolyn Lange

LAKE LILLIAN -- When the timber bridge on Kandiyohi County Road 2 east of Lake Lillian was removed this spring to make way for a new culvert, crews discovered that the pilings were all rotten.

Because the nearly 50-year-old bridge was also too narrow to leave in place once the 3½-mile stretch of county road underwent a necessary upgrade this year, it was classified as a structurally deficient bridge.

"It needed replacing," said Gary Danielson, Kandiyohi County public works director.

Without federal stimulus funding, the bridge may not have been replaced for another one to three years. Instead, the new culvert will be in place this year.

During a tour Monday of several road and bridge projects that are under way in the county, Kandiyohi County Commissioner Harlan Madsen praised Danielson for having construction prepared when the federal stimulus money became available for the Highway 2 road and bridge project.

"Gary and his staff had all the plans ready," Madsen said.

All of the $2.5 million for the road and bridge project is coming from federal stimulus funding.

The project was chosen because "so much groundwork" had been done already, Danielson said. "That's what saved the project."

Initially, the county was intending to use designated federal money for the road project and wait to replace the bridge when additional money became available. New stimulus money allowed both parts of the project to be done at once, which "saved a lot of total tax dollars," Danielson said.

The county opted to replace the timber bridge with a triple concrete box culvert that has a center height of 12 by 12 feet, allowing the commissioners to easily stroll through it as back hoes dumped dirt and rocks at one end.

The culvert will be able to move the same amount of water that flows from the South Fork of the Crow River as the timber bridge did, said Joe Steffen, Kandiyohi County bridge inspector.

The culvert will also have "a 100-year life span," said Ray Krossman, county highway engineer.

Culverts are usually less expensive to build and require less maintenance than timber bridges, Danielson said.

An old timber bridge by Nest Lake near Spicer, however, is being replaced with another bridge and not a culvert. There are poor soil conditions and sedimentation that could plug up a culvert, said Danielson.

Funding for that $297,000 project is from money that goes to counties that's designated for township bridge projects.

The final bridge project the County Board of Commissioners toured Monday was on the Tri-County Road where a steep roadbed was reduced and a narrow bridge replaced with a wide culvert.

The $396,000 in funding came from the local road improvement fund.

The commissioners also took a ride down County Road 7 south of Raymond, which will be the major project for the county in 2010. That 6½-mile project extends about a quarter of a mile into Renville County. It will take two years to complete.

Carolyn Lange

A reporter for more than 30 years, Carolyn Lange covers regional news with the West Central Tribune.

(320) 894-9750