There’s more good news on the Barton County bridge front.
In fact, it’s even better news than county officials were first excited about.
After work went well ahead of schedule on the repairs to the Radium Road bridge, it was announced at the Barton County Commission meeting Tuesday that work was also going to move ahead of schedule on the Arkansas River bridge just south of Ellinwood.
Then, Tuesday afternoon, County Engineer Clark Rusco reported that even that schedule was moving ahead, and work that was not expected to begin until late in the week, or early next week, is now supposed to begin this morning.
Rusco said the Ellinwood bridge will close for part of the day today to allow two damaged pins to be replaced.
When the work is done, hopefully in less than a day, the bridge can be reopened at full width, which means there will not need to be traffic signals on it any longer.
It wasn’t expected that the work could begin this soon, Rusco reported at the Tuesday morning meeting, because it could not progress without a specialized welder to cut out the damaged support pins. “He’s the only certified bridge welder in the state of Kansas, so he has a pretty full schedule,” the county engineer commented.
Later in the day, Tuesday, however, it was learned that the bridge welder would be available today, so preparations were made to get the work done starting at about 8 a.m. today.
To prepare for this work, Rusco added, the L&M Contractors crew had to add extensions onto its crane and smooth out part of the river bottom to set up the crane, due to the height of the bridge in the area where the damage was found.
County officials were pleased with the progress, getting the construction crews started preparing for the Ellinwood work and looking ahead to having the work done at the beginning of next week.
This newest change has really moved the schedule ahead, Rusco noted.
Once the pins have been replaced, hopefully in a few hours of work, final repairs will be made to the bridge surface, which has been drilled to allow the crane to set it at its correct height. After that, the traffic signal equipment will be removed and the bridge can be reopened at its regular width.
It was noted that the bridge will have to be closed while the work is done.
However, the speed-up has meant that both bridges should be fully operational in time for fall harvest.
The success of this project has been a surprise, it was noted earlier.
Everyone involved in the process had been concerned that getting the damaged pins removed would be a much more difficult process.
The work on the Radium Road bridge went much quicker than had been anticipated. It was the older of the two pin-and-hangar bridges in Barton County, so it was expected that the pins could be especially difficult to remove from the Radium bridge, but Rusco said that was not the case.
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