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County bridge plan approved
Changes should hold up for the future
new deh ellinwood bridge file photo
This shot from a year ago shows bridge work under way. This week the Barton County Commission approved improvements to two bridges that were closed a year ago due to damage. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

Since there is no water, there’s little chance that the two minnow species that are considered endangered under Barton County’s roads will be at risk this winter, but two of the county’s more important bridges are endangered, and the Barton County Commission has approved a plan to get them fixed and made safer.
Tuesday the commissioner approved an engineering services agreement with H.W. Lochner, Inc., paving the way for the bridge work to get done this winter.
Not only does that not involve the minnows, but it also provides for the work to be done at a time when there is no harvest under way, County Engineer Clark Rusco noted.
The project involves the “retrofit of the pin and hanger assemblies for the Radium Road and Ellinwood bridges over the Arkansas River. 
“The Radium Road bridge, located near Dundee, is a four girder bridge with two expansion joints. The Ellinwood bridge, is a five girder bridge with two expansion joints,” according to information from Rusco.
The agreement with the engineering firm includes a cost, not to exceed $27,460.
The project will involve getting rid of the pin and hangar equipment that caused both of these bridges to be closed a year ago.
They were in danger of collapsing due to broken pins, Rusco reported then.
Rusco reported at the time that the Radium Road bridge, was built in 1971, and the Ellinwood bridge in 1981. They are the only two bridges in Barton County constructed of concrete and steel beams, with the supporting beams designed to “float” so the bridges can expand and contract, according to the temperature changes. These are only two of about 40 such bridges in the whole state, Rusco added.
One of the problems with this type of construction is that the steel beam mechanism is held together with huge bolts and over time those bolts can weaken, especially on the outside lanes where the metal is exposed to salt solutions during the winter. When the bridge gives or flexes under heavy use, the bolts can snap, which is what happened to the local bridges.
Because the pins and hangars will be removed and other supports replaced, the bridges will have to be closed during the work.
“Hopefully we can work so we minimize” the time the bridges are closed, Rusco commented.