Bonding money needed for new bridge
WORTHINGTON — Replacement of a bridge on Nobles County State Aid Highway 1 north of Brewster this year hinges on the upcoming state legislative session and their ability to pass a bonding bill.
In a presentation to Nobles County Commissioners on Tuesday, Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder said the bridge had to be posted down last year, preventing semi traffic from traveling over the structure. With a new efficiency rating on the bridge expected within the next few weeks, Schnieder is hopeful the project will qualify for bonding money. Those funds would cover an estimated 60 percent of the costs to replace the bridge with a new bridge.
“We have a list of bridges we’d like to replace, and bonding money is what we’ll be waiting for to get that done,” Schnieder said.
In the case of the CSAH 1 bridge, Schnieder would like the replace the traditional bridge structure with pre-cast concrete box culverts. It would take six lines of boxes to equal the span of the existing bridge, he said.
“The state starts looking at it closely when you get to three box culverts,” Schnieder said, adding that it isn’t a safety issue, but a cost issue. Installing box culverts would cost approximately $300,000 more than a traditional bridge structure.
Schnieder said the life expectancy of a traditional bridge versus a box culvert makes that added cost worth it in the long run. The existing bridge should have lasted an average of 75 years, but it is only nearing 50 years of age. Box culverts, on the other hand, have a life equivalency of approximately 100 years.
“We prefer the culverts, but the cost is fairly significant,” Schnieder said, asking commissioners what they preferred. He also said it would take approximately three weeks to replace the bridge with pre-cast concrete culverts, whereas a traditional bridge would take three to four months to construct.
“This is one of the heavier traveled roads going into Brewster or to the bean plant (Minnesota Soybean Processors),” said Board Chairman Marv Zylstra.
“I think a pre-cast concrete structure would be a good investment in our infrastructure,” added Commissioner Bob Demuth Jr.
Schnieder said if bonding money is authorized, they could advertise for bids as early as July, award the bid in August and hope for construction in September. Without bonding money, the project would be delayed until at least 2015.
In other action, the board:
* Approved the use of the Farmer’s Room in the lower level of the Nobles County Government Center in Worthington as a training room and Emergency Operations Center (EOC); and authorized Emergency Management Director Joyce Jacobs to proceed with purchasing the basic amenities for the room. Those basics include creating wireless access for the entire government center at a cost of $6,000, two flat screens, a sound system, multi-media laptop and a podium with a rack/cart to house controls, at a cost of $9,300.
* Approved the 2014-15 County Feedlot delegation agreement and work plan with the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. Environmental Services Director Wayne Smith said his office plans to inspect at least 10 percent of county feedlots (54) in 2014. Many of those will be Level III inspections in the Heron Lake and Rock River watersheds.
* Approved a contract with local attorney Joel Wiltrout to continue to assist in caseloads for the county attorney’s office. The contract renewal is at the same rate of $150 per hour.
* Approved a Memorandum of Understanding with Worthington School District 518 on the use of space in the West Learning Center for an auxiliary Women, Infants and Children (WIC) Clinic. The clinic is slated to open March 3, and will be staffed three days per week, including Monday evenings until 7 p.m. The auxiliary clinic is hoped to reach a greater population of qualifying families.
* Approved designating Northland Securities as the county’s bond agent for refunding general obligation bonds.
* Supported a resolution to advance to legislators to allow counties to publish legal notices on the official county website as an alternative to publishing them in the county’s legal newspaper. Demuth said this doesn’t mean that Nobles County would choose to publish legal notices only online.
* Approved the county’s vision statement, “Looking forward with purpose.”
Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.