Winneshiek County Enginer Lee Bjerke spent time Monday reviewing with county supervisors the long list of bridge repair and replacement projects the county is tackling.
At the top of the list is the Hutchinson Bridge over the Upper Iowa River, which was closed to traffic last week by a state bridge inspector. Bjerke says the inspector discovered that metal beams resting on the bridge abutments have severely corroded. He says workers will remove the bridge deck, put new steel stringers in place, then replace the bridge deck back on the stringers.
The bridge, says Bejrke, "has been towards the top of our list (to replace) for a long time." Right now a new bridge would be built in 2021. Bjerke says his office is also studying the possibility of relocating the bridge slightly to improve access on and off the bridge--although that would raise the cost of a new bridge because of the need to purchase adjoining property.
Another bridge that will need temporary repairs in the Kendallville Bridge, which was damaged in a traffic accident last week. Bjerke says the major damage was done to an approach guardrail and not the bridge itself, although minor repairs to the bridge will also be needed.
Bjerke also discussed with supervisors a number of bridge projects which will either involve concrete culverts or railroad tank cars that will carry water underneath a roadbed. Railroad tank cars that were intended to be used in another bridge replacement will instead be used to replace Bridge #199, which was also closed last week by a state bridge inspector. The railroad tank cars, which need to have their ends removed before being used as a culvert, have been so successful that Bjerke says his department is buying two more for a total of $5,000.
Bjerke also updated supervisors about Bridge #87, Bridge #312, Bridge #213, Bridge #214 and a bridge in Twin Springs Park.