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County hopes to replace crumbling historic bridge
new deh county commission bridge overall pic
Pictured is the historic limestone bridge north of Beaver the county wants to replace with new, wider and safer structure. Also shown is the deteriorating condition of the bridge. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

In other business Monday morning, the Barton County Commission:
• Approved the renewal of a lease for Keith Miller, allowing him to farm ground south of the Barton County Landfill until August 2017. Originally approved on Dec. 13, 2010, the lease allowed Miller to farm 20 acres. In the action Monday, the commission expanded the lease to include additional acreage, County Administrator Richard Boeckman said. This ground will be used for baling at the rate of $51 per acre.  
• Approved a request from the City of Claflin for assistance with sealing of certain roads. As an independent contractor, the county would receive a maximum of $6,000 for labor and equipment, Boeckman said. The county has worked with Claflin for a number of years, said city employee Richard Hayes. The city has tried to hire a private contrctor, but none will take a job this small.  
The agreement has worked well in the past, Hayes said.
• Ratified the purchase of a new pool vehicle, a 2013 Chrysler 200 LX four-door sedan from Manweiler Chevrolet  in Hoisington for $13,900. Facilities Management is charged with the maintenance of county pool vehicles and for some time, the department has been reluctant to let the 2000 Ford Taurus be used for travel as it has excessive mileage and is unreliable.  Wanda Ybarra, facilities leader, asked local dealers for bids on a used sedan with low mileage and some warranty left.  
She received seven bids. The lowest bid was for a 2011 Ford Fiesta, but Boeckman said this was older and smaller than what the county was looking for.
• Approved a Resolution establishing a sign assessment system for Barton County. In order to comply with the sign assessment system required by the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, City Engineer Clark Rusco and Road and Bridge Director Dale Phillips suggested the county establish the system. The policy applies to signage on roads under the authority of Barton County and to the signage maintained on township roads, Phillips said. 
The system addresses such things as sign reflectivity, and how and why signs are repaired or replacement, Phillips said. Barton County already has the makings of such a system in place.
• Heard an update on departmental activities from Boeckman.

This historic bridge may not be falling down, but it has seen better days.
Known as bridge number 650, the limestone bridge three miles north of Beaver dates back to 1940 and the Work Progress Administration. However, the past seven decades have taken their toll on the deteriorating structure.
The Barton County Commission Monday morning gave notice it plans to demolish the crumbling bridge with plans to replace it with a new, safer one. However, since it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the public has to have a chance to offer opposition to the action, said County Administrator Richard Boeckman.
Pending response from the public, the commission will take formal action to raze the bridge when it meets in two weeks on Tuesday, Sept. 2. After that, a letter will be sent to the Kansas State Historic Society’s historic preservation officer letting them know of the county’s intention. The state will also have an opportunity to respond.
The concrete and stone bridge on North East 60 Avenue spans a tributary of Beaver Creek and has “WPA 1940” stamped in the cement curb, said County Engineer Clark Rusco. It is suggested that the narrow bridge be replaced with reinforced concrete box in order to widen it to a safer 30-foot roadway width that is consistent with the roadway width north and south of the structure. This will also better accommodate today’s larger farm and oil field equipment.
In addition to safety, cost is another issue, Rusco said. In 2011, it was estimated it would cost $130,000 to restore the bridge. Although he wasn’t sure of the exact price, a new structure would be less expensive.
Much of the limestone and cement on the bridge abutments and at the base of the supports has eroded away, Rusco said. Any of the limestone salvaged can be used to help repair the remaining historic bridges.
The bridge was on of seven limestone WPA-era bridges in the northern part of the county designated as historic a few years ago, Boeckman said. The state promised funds to help restore them, “but that money was not forthcoming.”
This would be the third bridge the county has “delisted” and replaced, Boeckman said. The state has an official procedure for this, and that is what the county is following.