Commissioner: Township bridge replacement process taking too longWORTHINGTON — A bridge along 210th Street in Larkin Township has been closed to vehicle traffic for 10 months because of its unsafe condition, and Nobles County Commissioner Diane Thier is wondering how much longer farmers will have to wait before the bridge is replaced.
By: Julie Buntjer, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — A bridge along 210th Street in Larkin Township has been closed to vehicle traffic for 10 months because of its unsafe condition, and Nobles County Commissioner Diane Thier is wondering how much longer farmers will have to wait before the bridge is replaced.
During Tuesday morning’s Nobles County Board meeting, Thier asked county Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder if the bridge will be reopened in time for fall harvest.
“Now we’re getting into August,” said Thier, wondering why, since the money is in place, there continues to be a delay.
The construction contract was awarded in June, but the presence of two endangered species — the Topeka Shiner minnow and the tree swallow — the township could not start construction on a new bridge until this month, at the earliest.
“It’s not a question of if (the work will be done), it’s a question of when,” Schnieder told the board.
A certified inspector must be on-site during the construction process, and the county’s Public Works department doesn’t have the staff to meet the requirement.
“We normally do (the inspections), but I have one less technician, as of April, that we didn’t replace,” Schnieder told the board. When a second technician left earlier this summer to take a position with the Minnesota Department of Transportation, the posi-tion was refilled. However, the new employee just started work on Monday and doesn’t have the proper certification as of yet.
“When you get money from the State of Minnesota to the tune of several hundred thousand dollars, you’ve got to make sure the work is done right,” said Schnieder.
Nobles County isn’t the only county that is short-staffed, he added. Neighboring counties have been contacted about having someone available to do the inspection, but Schnieder hasn’t had luck in finding anyone yet.
“We asked the township if they wanted to have a consultant come in and do it, but they aren’t willing to do that,” Schnieder said.
Hiring a consultant would add at least another $1,000 to the cost of the project, and townships — like counties — are experiencing tight budgets.
“Remember, it’s not (a county) bridge, it’s a township project,” he said.
In board action Tuesday, commissioners:
- Approved the third payment to Salonek Concrete and Construction of Springfield at $40,405.30, for the third-floor remodeling project at the Nobles County Government Center.
- Approved the classification of forfeited property at 2615 Birchwood Drive, Bigelow. Taxes on the property have been delinquent for the past five years. They also approved the Department of Natural Resources resolution requesting sale of the forfeited property; a resolution certifying that the Soil and Water Conservation District has viewed the property and deemed it as not forested and/or wetland property; and a resolution directing the county assessor to appraise the forfeited land.
- Approved a resolution to place an open-ended date on the issuance of $10,915,000 in water system bonds for the Lincoln-Pipestone Rural Water expansion project in Nobles County. George Erickson of Northland Securities said there is at least one county that has not yet signed the Joint Powers Agreement. While that signature is expected soon, Erickson said the resolution is needed to correct a specific window of dates previously set for issuance of the bonds.
- Approved a resolution requesting an advance in 2010 State Aid funding for the replacement of bridges on County State Aid Highways 13 and 15. Schneider said approximately $370,000 will be needed to complete the project. At the same time, the board set 1:30 p.m. Sept. 1 as the date to open bids on the two bridge construction projects, which are hoped to be completed yet this fall.
- Received information from county recorder Lynn Wilson on changes in the marriage license application that took effect Aug. 1.
- Approved signing a statement of interest for Nobles County to participate in the All-Hazard Mitigation Plan.