County facing bridge issue caused by river erosion

The Marion County Board of Commissioners began its regular Monday meeting with the observation that erosion is leaving a washout hole under the west end of the South Cottonwood River bridge on 190th east of Nighthawk.

Bruce Boettcher, with the engineering firm BG Con­sultants, said the hole is continuing to grow to the extent that it might require the county to build a new bridge and contiguous highway surface through property that would have to be acquired north of the current highway on a grassed area next to a pond.

Commissioner Lori Lalouette said she definitely would favor correcting the bridge, and maintaining the hard-surface road, designated as an extension of Highway 256, as a major travel artery between Hills­boro and Marion.

Commissioner Dan Holub noted that more than 50 cars passed on the bridge just during the commissioners’ inspection.

Holub said he was “shocked” by the size of the hole and the threat to traffic safety.

Commission Chairman Randy Dallke said Leroy Wetta, a former county commissioner, pointed out his concern about the hole to the commission last year, but the problem has continued to worsen.

The commissioners voted 3-0 to have BG Consultants study the situation to recommend what they thought would work best.

They noted the bridge would likely be more than a million-dollar project, and they would want it on the ballot to let voters decide if the project was deemed to be an acceptable expense.

The commissioners went into executive session to consider acquisition of property with the engineers and Transfer Station Director Bud Druse for 30 minutes, then followed with a 15-minute extension.

Gerald W. Henderson, in presenting next year’s county food bank request, asked the county to consider a donation to financially stressed families. He said an accelerated program has increased food contributions from about 100 persons per month to about 600 persons per month.

The average numbers of clients per community were 27 from Burns, 80 from Florence, 10 from Goessel, 101 from Hillsboro, 13 from Lehigh, 11 from Lincolnville, 40 from Lost Springs, 223 from Marion, 88 from Pea­body and 15 from Ramona.

Henderson said the people accepting the help vary each month as situations change or jobs are acquired.

He said he is pleased with the spirit of help and consideration shown in the program.