August 30, 2001

County Commission Targets 10 Bridges For Replacement With Grant

The antique fair brought many exhibits of history to Scotland County last week, while the County Commission was busy eliminating no fewer than 10 "antique" bridges from the region's road maps.

The week before Missouri Governor Bob Holden announced that Scotland County will receive a $274,760 Community Block Development Grant to assist the county in replacing 10 bridges.

The county commission plan calls for replacing the structures that date back as far as 1910, with the youngest bridges being constructed in 1930.

Two of the proposed sites are already closed because of the bridge quality, while all eight of the others were rated structurally poor by an engineering review.

The new bridges will span anywhere from 80-feet to the shortest length of 30-feet. Two of the bridges being replaced are currently just 12-feet wide with two also being limited to a maximum of only five-ton loads.

Six projects are located in the north part of the county with the south portion receiving four new bridges.

"We try to scatter the projects across the region because it is a county-wide project," said Presiding Commissioner Mike Stephenson.

The grant process provides funding for the steel packages for each structure as well as the concrete costs.

The county received its first grant through Northeast Missouri Regional Planning Commission in 1984 to replace the Miller Bottom bridge. It and the next grant, a 1987 funding for the Route A bridge near Gorin, were both 80/20 grants, with the county required to pay 20-percent of the project cost.

The first CDBG was awarded in 1988 when the county received a $138,000 grant to build and replace box culverts along county roads. In 1993 a $141,000 CDBG was awarded for a small bridges project in Scotland County. Eight structures were replaced under that funding. In 1997 the bridge fund received another boost from the grant program as 13 structures in lieu of bridges were funded with a $217,000 award.

Stephenson stated that the county would get started in October at the earliest when bid requests will be mailed out for the bridge steel packages. "We won't get started on construction until next year so we will be three years getting them done," he said.

"This time span works well because it allows us some down time between applications," said commissioner Roger Riebel. "The construction process takes two or three years so when we get all of the bridges done we can look to apply again at that time."

Riebel and Commissioner Dean Childress both noted that the process has been very successful thanks in part to the work of the regional planning commission.

The county also earned praise from the RPC for its progressive approach to the bridge replacement issue.

"The county's investment in equipment has made them capable to do these types of projects, which allows them to provide in-kind labor and materials to make our CDBG grant applications more attractive," said RPC Director David Shoush.

The county currently is completing its seventh bridge replacement project of 2001. All of these projects have been funded by the county alone.

"We're building bridges every year," Stephenson said. "We're not just waiting around for grant money as we are doing as much as possible with county funds and other sources of revenue to replace as many of the old bridges as possible."

In addition to the county and the CDBG funded bridge projects, the region also will have five off-system bridges in the works in the near future. The county has earned approximately $260,000 in federal construction aide through its own expenditures on bridge and road repairs. This amount goes toward the 80 percent of the 80/20 split in the off-system program. The county then must pay the remaining 20 percent of the project. However the commission has been able to trade a portion of its federal money with another county, receiving soft match in return to cover the 20-percent. That means the county will be out no money for the five proposed off-system bridges.

Despite all of the new construction, the commission stressed the county still has several bridges that need repair.

"Plenty of bridges have been replaced but there are still more than 70 bridges on the MoDOT rating system that are in poor enough condition to qualify for state and federal funding to be replaced," Stephenson stated.

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