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Bridge downgraded in western Nobles County

WORTHINGTON -- A bridge that spans Kanaranzi Creek along Nobles County State Aid Highway 19 in Westside Township has new weight restrictions after it was discovered the timber pilings have deteriorated to the point where they can't support straig...

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This bridge spanning the Kanaranzi Creek along County State Aid Highway 19 in Westside Township has been downgraded to 10-ton straight trucks and 16-ton tractor-trailers and straight trucks pulling trailers due to deterioration of the wood pilings. (Tim Middagh / The Globe)

WORTHINGTON - A bridge that spans Kanaranzi Creek along Nobles County State Aid Highway 19 in Westside Township has new weight restrictions after it was discovered the timber pilings have deteriorated to the point where they can’t support straight trucks over 10 tons or semi tractor-trailers over 16 tons.

Nobles County Public Works Director Stephen Schnieder told county commissioners Tuesday that as soon as his crews noticed the situation, the process began to get the bridge replaced. He sought and received board approval to prioritize the bridge for replacement, which would make it eligible for funding.

Schnieder estimated the cost to replace the bridge at approximately $875,000. About 40 percent of the replacement costs could come from state bonding - if it’s available - with the rest taken from the county’s allotment of state aid construction dollars. This would mean other projects already identified could likely be delayed, he said.

Another option, Schnieder noted, would be to enact the local option sales tax specifically for transportation projects - an idea discussed in recent board meetings - to help pay for the project.

This particular area of the Kanaranzi Creek is also where the federally endangered Topeka Shiner are present. That means that any bridge replacement project will need to wait until about mid-August for construction.

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“I don’t see that (the project) will be done this year if funding isn’t available,” Schnieder said.

The weight restrictions are expected to greatly impact agricultural commerce in southwestern Nobles County. As Commissioner Gene Metz noted, CSAH 19 is the only north-south blacktop west of Minnesota 91.

Schnieder said signs have already gone up to notify people of the weight restrictions. He said school buses will be able to cross the bridge, but loaded semi trailers will not. Those not abiding by the weight restrictions are taking risks in crossing the bridge.

“If the bridge goes down, you lose whatever unit you’re in, and second, you’re responsible for the replacement of the bridge,” Schnieder said. “If you elect to violate that law, I don’t know if insurance covers that or not.”

Metz asked if it was possible to replace the bridge this year.

“This one is deficient enough that it could go down,” he said. “If the money was there, is there any way the bridge could be put in yet this year?”

Schnieder said if a precast concrete culvert was being done, it would have a better chance at getting completed in 2019. However, it takes more time and effort if a bridge structure is required.

“I’d like to see us push this as fast as we can,” Metz said. “We could wait two to three years for state bonding money.”

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Schnieder said he will work to get the project going as quickly as possible.

A second bridge structure on CSAH 19, this one north of CSAH 35, was also identified for replacement. Schnieder said that structure does not qualify for funding, and it is still posted so that legal straight truck and semis can still use the bridge.

“We have 19 structures we’re working on - all in different stages,” Schnieder said.

Two of the bridges slated for reconstruction this year coincide with the planned drawdown of Lake Ocheda, south of Worthington.

Julie Buntjer became editor of The Globe in July 2021, after working as a beat reporter at the Worthington newspaper since December 2003. She has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism from South Dakota State University.
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