(EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of articles on the possible replacement of one of the county’s historic stone bridges.)
County Engineer Clark Rusco, County Administrator Richard Boeckman and the Barton County Commission have been discussing the issue for a long time now, and next Monday they are expected to take action on a plan to replace one of the several historic stone bridges in northern Barton County.
Monday the commissioners began public discussion about the advisability of replacing one of two double arch stone bridges with a modern concrete structure that would be more able to carry heavy and busy traffic in that part of the county.
At issue is a bridge that currently is simply not safe for agriculture and oil field traffic in that area.
Even if the bridge were improved, it was noted Monday, the county would still have an old stone bridge where a new concrete bridge is needed.
And there is another double arch stone bridge — in better condition — just a couple of miles away.
The issue will continue under discussion next Monday.
The commissioners are working to keep the discussions as open as possible because they are dealing with an historic structure.
It also needs to be a safe one, however, county officials are urging.
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 a report presented earlier by County Engineer Rusco, “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 any of the bridges are to remain in use, they will need professional stone work.