Although the 95-year-old bridge on East Barton County road over the Wet Walnut Creek remains structurally sound, it is outdated for the needs of today’s large farm implements and trucks, County Engineer Barry McManaman told the Barton County Commission Tuesday morning.
“It’s not in bad shape,” he said. But, at 19 feet wide, “it is extremely narrow.”
Based on his recommendation, commissioners approved contacting with the Ellsworth engineering firm Kirkham, Michael and Associates Inc. for the design work to replace the bridge approximately 2.9 miles east of U.S. 281. The firm will design a reinforced concrete bridge to replace the existing bridge that was built in 1924, County Engineer Barry McManaman said.
It is anticipated that the design work will be finished in approximately one year, at which time an advertisement for construction bids will be published, he said.
Farmers have to reroute their equipment north to U.S. 56 to get around the crossing, McManaman said. “Replacing it would be a benefit to the travelers in Barton County.”
Commission Chairwoman Jennifer Schartz said it is impressive that the structure is almost a century old and is still functional. But, she and her fellow commissioners understood the need to replace it.
McManaman said it is framed by steel rails embedded in concrete. It is not possible to remove the railings and simply widen the bridge as they have done on some others.
This will be the second bridge replaced on East Barton County Road. Last October, a new bridge less than a mile west of was opened.
At the time, McManaman said residents asked about the bridge on Monday’s agenda.