County Engineer Clark Rusco is hoping that Kansas State Historical Society officials will consider reports on engineering plans quickly enough that at least a couple of the county’s historic stone bridges will see improvements this fall.
Rusco met with the Barton County Commission Monday to discuss acceptance of Kirkham, Michael and Associates as the engineering firm for the project to repair eight historic WPA stone bridges in the county.
The Works Project Administration bridges were constructed in the early 1940s and continue in use, though they have suffered from disrepair over the ensuing years.
According to Rusco’s report, “the bridges, clustered in the Claflin area, require the repair of damaged stones, replacing failed or missing stones, resetting displaced stones and removing and replacing grout.”
Rusco explained he requested engineering proposals from several firms and three responded. Those were considered by a review committee, which agreed to recommend Kirkham, Michael and Associates to the commission.
The bridges in question are located on township roads in the northern part of the county and exhibit stone work that WPA experts used, in place of the more common concrete bridges of that time.
If the bridges are to remain in use, they will need professional stone work.
Rusco said he’s hoping that engineering designs will be approved to allow work to move ahead at least on the two largest of the bridges yet this year.
Descriptions of some of the bridges, according to information from the state historical society, includes:
“Located on a rural county road, this double-arch limestone bridge spans Coal Creek. As noted on the decorative bridge keystones, the bridge was completed in 1941 as a Works Projects Administration (WPA) project. The locally quarried stone features a rusticated finish and retains its tool markings.
“This limestone bridge is located less than one-quarter mile from the Hitschmann Double Arch Bridge over Coal Creek on the same rural county road. It features a utilitarian appearance with locally quarried smooth-cut limestone blocks. The bridge was completed in 1941 as a WPA project.
“Located on a rural county road, this single-arch limestone bridge spans the headwaters of Beaver Creek. The decorative keystone notes the bridge’s 1941 construction date. The locally quarried stone features a rusticated finish and retains its tool markings.”