After the County became involved with the Wetlands and Wildlife National Scenic Byway, several Works Progress Administration native-stone bridges in the northern part of the County were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
However, one of them (Bridge 650 north of Beaver) is in an advanced state of deterioration and needs to be replaced, County Engineer Barry McManaman told the Barton County Commission Monday morning.
McManaman applied for a construction permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in February. This would allow for the removal and replacement of the woebegone limestone bridge.
But, as a part of this process, federal requirements for mitigating the loss of a historic structure must be met, he said.
The commission Monday approved signing a memorandum of agreement stipulating that this effort will consist of maintaining and preserving the remaining native stone bridges that are listed on the national registry, and provide photographic documentation of Bridge 650.
“One of these days, it is just going to fall in,” Commissioner Kenny Schremmer said. It is on a county blacktop road and sees heavy traffic.
There were initially seven stone bridges built as part of the WPA in the early 1940s that were listed as national landmarks. A few years back, two were replaced for similar reasons.
With the replacement of Bridge 650, there will now be four of the structures remaining. McManaman said these are in better condition.
The Great Depression-era Works Progress Administration (renamed in 1939 as the Work Projects Administration) was the largest New Deal agency, employing of unemployed people (mostly unskilled men) to carry out public works projects, including the construction of public buildings and roads. It was in existence from 1939-1943.
In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:
• Approved contracting with Kirkham Michael & Associates of Ellsworth. The firm submitted an estimate of $39,615.13 for the inspection on the upcoming Kansas Department of Transportation High-risk Rural Roads signing project on county roads. Barton County personnel will install the signs and Kirkham Michael will mark the sign locations and document that they are properly installed.
Inspection services must be performed by an outside firm as federal guidelines do not allow the county to inspect its own work, McManaman said. The payment for inspection services is covered by the state and will be routed through the local KDOT office and paid directly to Kirkham Michael.