September 22, 2011

County's Bridges Earn High Marks From MoDOT Inspectors

Scotland County has experienced something akin to the Baby Boom when it comes to its bridge system. Nearly half of the county's 161 structures have been built in the past decade, a trend that lends itself to positive marks from the Missouri Department of Transportation.

MoDOT's Skip Wilson recently completed the biennial state inspections for the county's system, which rated above average.

Despite having one of the largest numbers of bridges among the 17 northeast Missouri counties, Scotland County was below the district average for the number of deficient bridges. Wilson indicated 17 bridges were rated as structurally deficient, representing 11% of the total. Across the district, counties have an average of 14% of their bridges deemed deficient by MoDOT.

The county is doing its part to further lower that number, with as many as nine bridges in consideration for replacement in 2011.

A 2009 Community Development Block Grant for $163,400 will help replace as many as five narrow, iron/wood beam construction one lane bridges in Scotland County and construction of a new bridge at a current low water crossing.

One of those structures, Bridge #358 located on County Road 358, which is south of Route D, has already been completed with a second, Bridge #132 located on County Road 909 just south of the Route CC intersection in the northwest part of the county, currently under construction.

Materials have been ordered for two more of the projects, bridges #337 and #401, located northwest of Groin on County Road 156 (Colt Lane) and on See Road just southwest off the other structure on the south side of the Atchison Topeka & Santa Fe Rail Road tracks that dissect the region. Both bridges were originally built in 1930.

The county hopes to be able to afford new structures with steel pilings, steel I-beams and six-inch concrete decks and guardrails to replace Bridge #090 in the northwest quarter of the county on County Road 716 just south of Route H and to build a structure to replace a low water crossing on County Road 657, which is located south of Highway 136 and north of Route D. However rising costs of steel have prevented the CDBG funds from going as far as initially budgeted in 2009.

Similar funding concerns likely will hamper future bridge projects by the county utilizing the federal off system funding program. Bridge #140, which was funded in part by federal bridge replacement off systems (BRO) funds, is nearly complete. The structure is located near the Mary Morgan Property near Route C.

But as funding for the program is reduced, county officials indicated the likelihood that BRO monies will have to be allowed to build up over two or three years in order to fund a bridge replacement.

The latest project was estimated at a cost of $380,000, or approximately the equivalent of three to four years of off-system grant funds. Those federal dollars only pay for 80% of the project. The county does receive "soft-match" money for every non-federally funded bridge it replaces on its own, helping to offset the remaining 20% cost of off system bridges.

Two other structures will be replaced through federal and state disaster aid related to flood damage over the past several years. The 2008 DI funding through the CDBG program will help replace bridge #159 that spans the North Wyaconda River on County Road 714, and bridge #375 on County Road 253. The county is considering the use of new technology on Bridge #159, implementing Nebraska NU I-girders, which span further than any other I girders on the market. The use of the new system may allow the structure to cover the full span of bridge #159, making it one of the largest in the state while providing significant cost savings.

These projects will ultimately lower the number of bridges in the county that are more than 50 years old, from the current mark of 16.

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