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New bridge in place
East Barton County Road now re-opened
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Pictured is the new bridge on East Barton County Road. The bridge is done and the road is open once again.

The long-time bridge project on East Barton County Road is completed, Barton County Engineer Barry McManaman said. The new bridge one mile east of Great Bend is done and the road was re-opened Tuesday. 

L&M Contractors Inc., of Great Bend was the prime contractor for the $525,429 project, and the construction and inspection work was 80 percent funded with federal money that passed through the Kansas Department of Transportation. Barton County picked up the remaining 20 percent of those costs, or about $106,000.

The county paid for all of the design work that was done by Kirkham-Michael out of Ellsworth. That bill was $22,000. 

KDOT officials opened bids on Oct. 18, 2017, and the winning bid came from L&M. It was in line with KDOT estimates and the agency recommended approval.  

The work started in the spring of this year. During that time, the road was closed.

It was back in January 2017 that KDOT first opened bids for the bridge. However the low bid from L&M for $929,000 was substantially over the department’s estimate, county officials said.

The county’s 20 percent share would have come to $186,000.

Plans were to replace it using a geosynthetic reinforced soil integrated bridge system, a system unproved in Kansas. A GRS bridge system was supposed to take less time and money to install as the bridge rests on layers of compressed concrete blocks separated by a synthetic fabric. 

But, it didn’t work for the county. Contractors were unfamiliar with the GRS process and “it wasn’t the right fit at this time.”

Instead of moving ahead with this idea, the county opted to go back to the drawing board, and have the project redesigned and rebid.

Kirkham-Michael was hired in February 2017 to do the redesign at a cost of $22,000. But, even with this cost and the $5,900 for additional survey work, the county still save $52,000 over the cost if the GRS structure, officials said.

The new bridge is a traditional style using steel pilings. The old multiple-barrel concrete box structure that was removed was suffering from stream erosion and settlement issues. 

Several years ago, the span was up for replacement. But, after $20,000 was spent for a design, it was canceled.

Then, in 2014, the bridge came up again. At that time, the GRS concept was suggested.

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