There are historic bridges in Barton County and then there are bridges that are history.
On Tuesday, the Barton County Commission addressed the latter category.
Commissioners — meeting on Tuesday due to the New Year’s holiday, Monday — approved acceptance of a Kansas Department of Transportation grant offer to replace “Bridge 203,” an aging and unsafe structure located east and south of Kiowa Road, just southeast of Great Bend.
County Engineer Clark Rusco explained the wood and steel structure had been moved into this area in 1945, serving a couple of farms south of the old township dirt road that runs from Great Bend to Ellinwood.
The condition of the bridge, which was not new when it was moved to its present location, continued to deteriorate with age and the county has been working for years to get a deal to replace it.
The safety of the structure has become questionable enough that it could no longer be used by trash trucks, or even by most fire trucks.
The bridge will be replaced through the Off System Bridge Program with the funds to be available in Federal Fiscal Year 2013, Rusco reported.
According to information from the county, the cost of the project is estimated to be $576,630.
Once the county has performed its share of the engineering, for which it will be compensated, it’s estimated the county’s costs will run between $27,000 and $30,000, the county engineer estimated.
The county has considered replacing the road to the two farms in question, but that would cost even more for the county, it was noted.
Rusco said it’s not uncommon for a bridge project to benefit few land owners in the immediate area of construction because most bridges are located in flood plain areas where there is usually little activity.