Larkin Township closes unsafe bridgeReplacement unlikely until next August at earliest
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
ADRIAN — Nobles County Commissioners learned on Tuesday that a bridge over Kanaranzi Creek in Larkin Township, northeast of Adrian, will be closed due to concerns about potential failure. The bridge likely won’t be replaced until next August, at the earliest.
Stephen Schnieder, Nobles County director of public works, said Larkin Township officials were notified Thursday of the need to close the bridge. Schnieder said it was one of several large bridges in the county to undergo an inspection two years ago.
As a result of that inspection, the weight limits were lowered to reduce damage caused by large vehicles and implements. Since then, Schnieder said county staff has continued to monitor the condition of the 73-year-old bridge along 210th Street.
The condition has deteriorated to the point that there is a noticeable depression on the surface of the bridge, Schnieder said.
“I probably kept this bridge open longer than we should have,” he told commissioners, adding concern for liability in the event the bridge would collapse.
Nobles County Commissioner Diane Thier expressed anger at the timing of the closure.
“What I don’t understand is this bridge was going to be inspected every year,” Thier said, adding that closing the bridge now will force farmers, during the busy harvest season, to drive six miles (round trip) out of the way.
“Think of the I-35 bridge (collapse),” Schnieder responded. “It’s my liability.
“It didn’t get bad all of a sudden,” he added. “It got to a point I don’t think it’s safe. …I empathize with those farmers, but it comes down to public safety.
“Even if it wasn’t closed, Diane, this bridge would be posted down,” Schnieder said.
During their tour of the county’s roads Tuesday afternoon, commissioners visited the Larkin Township bridge, where they met with the township supervisors. Following that meeting, the supervisors began steps to close the road.
“We are going to close it and let the two or three farmers that farm in between … to use it,” said Gary Honermann, one of three supervisors working Tuesday to put up gates marking the closure of the one-mile stretch of roadway between Dillman Avenue and Durfee Avenue. “Otherwise, it will be closed for all traffic.”
Replacement of the bridge, using a precast concrete culvert, is estimated to cost $250,000 to $300,000. Honermann said completing the replacement will depend on the availability of federal funds.
“The timing was kind of bad for the area farmers,” Honermann said. “We thought we could cross the bridge with loads of grain … (and) when it was inspected it was in worse shape. Our hands were tied.”
Commissioner Thier said the presence of the Topeka Shiner in the creek will prevent construction on the bridge next spring.