Crawford suggests train cars for bridge replacement

Marion County Road and Bridge Director Randy Crawford told commissioners at their Aug. 29 payday meeting to take a ?hard look? at converting some bridges on dirt roads to low-water bridges using steel railroad cars in place of building high-dollar bridges under state requirements.

After bridges on seldom-traveled dirt roads are demolished for replacement because of a state engineer?s inspection, Crawford said, a railroad car could be installed and then covered by packing layers of dirt and gravel over it.

He said the process could work on most of the nine bridges slated for replacement after such inspections.

Crawford said the main use on such roads is for passage of heavy farm equipment and trucks, and a steel railroad car could easily withstand those weights.

Crawford that the approach could save the county possibly hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The county is required to spend $20,000 to $35,000 annually for bridge inspections; the cheapest cost he found to replace a bridge by fall 2015 was $220,000, with the state and county sharing the cost.

The commissioners said the state is pursuing such a plan in part because of a political desire to increase employment through bridge building.

As an alternative, Commissioner Dan Holub asked, ?Are we going to have to look at closing some bridges??

He said some farmers already are in violation for installing barriers to halt the use of bridges by heavy equipment and truck loads that exceed weight limits.

?We are faced with saving their lives and their equipment,? Holub said.

Commissioner Roger Fleming said the money the state would contribute on dirt roads looks like a large contribution to the counties, ?but it really doesn?t do us any good?it?s a political program.?

?It?s there to create jobs,? Holub said.

Holub said there are other rural counties in the state that can?t afford to replace bridges or tear them out. So, the counties are erecting barriers to prevent their use.

The commissioners, in consultation with Bruce Boettcher, an engineer with BG Consultants Inc. of Emporia, confirmed proceeding with rebuilding the sharp turn on Nighthawk at 130th to a curve able to handle speeds up to 60 mph.

The project is being done with a $300,000 Kansas Depart?ment of Transpor?tation High Risk Rural Road grant and $85,000 in county contribution.

The commissioners approved a $15,910.80 road and bridge area fuel bid for 5,300 gallons of diesel from Cardie Oil Inc. of Tampa over a competitive bid of $16,096.55 from Cooperative Grain & Supply of Hillsboro.

They approved a road and bridge transport fuel bid of $24,428.50 for 3,000 gallons of gasoline and 5,000 gallons of diesel from Cardie Oil over a competitive bid of $24,465 from CG&S.

The commissioners were meeting in a $743,774.13 payday meeting. County Clerk Tina Spencer said the actual payout to employees was $431.390.88.

She reported receipt of monthly regular sales tax from the state at $55,145.51 and of special monthly jail sales tax at $48,108.31.

Fleming said the latter amount puts the county on a pace to pay off the jail construction bond in 2017.

Transfer Station Director Rollin Schmidt said a wall of the transfer station is breaking and pulling away from the building?likely requiring repair to keep water from entering the structure.

Commissioner Randy Dallke said the issue speaks to the need to start planning a location for a future transfer station with adequate electrical, gas and water hookups, possibly at the county?s south shops south of Marion.

Holub agreed that ?this place is coming apart. We have to get serious about an alternative soon.?

Fleming said the county probably needs ?to get engineering? soon to lay out a probable site, and figure out how much the project would cost.

Commissioners voted 2-1, with Dallke against, to allow Health Director Diedre Serene and Emergency Director Randy Frank to attend a training conference sponsored by federal homeland security in Maryland.

The county received a $28,649.90 liability insurance refund from the Insurance Center at Hillsboro for low coverage required.

Despite requests for increases, the commissioners voted 3-0 to leave funding at the same as last year for Kansas Legal Services ($3,500) and Domestic Violence Services ($2,000).

The commissioners said the decisions reflect a continuing need to tighten the budget.

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