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Local bridge building is continuing
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The bid opening is today on a major bridge project, but it is just one of many that are in the works for Barton County, according to information from County Engineer Clark Rusco.
Rusco reported this week that, “work continues with the consultant for the Arkansas River pin and hanger retro-fit project. 
“Plans and specifications are complete. 
“Eight sets of plans and specs have been sent to contractors interested in the project.”
The bid opening on that project is today, Rusco reported.
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 reported earlier by Rusco.
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 when he was announcing the project.
Rusco also reported continuing work with Kansas Department of Transportation officials to develop a project schedule for a truss bridge replacement, and for High Risk Rural Road Grants.
He also met recently with representatives from the Kansas Historical society to discuss the stone bridge project.  
In another project, surveys necessary for the Kansas Division of Water Resources permit applications for water structures in southwest Barton County have been completed and Rusco reoorted his department is preparing final permit applications.
Road and Bridge Department Director Dale Phillips reported that his department has recently completed a bridge project, also.
“New wood planks were added and stringers temporary placed to allow local traffic access to Bridge 203, the truss bridge located south and east of Great Bend. This bridge is restricted to three-ton vehicles or lower,” the road and bridge director explained.
Phillips’ staff have also recently smoothed the approaches to the bridge north of Albert and completed a low water crossing rebuild.