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County awards $142K contract for bridge replacement project

Stark County is replacing a wood bridge on 119th Avenue Southwest with a precast concrete box culvert.

A bid from Martin Construction Inc. of Dickinson for $142,530 was accepted by Stark County Commissioners Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Engineering consultant company KLJ estimated the project at $235,000.

"It's an older, wood structure bridge," Al Heiser, county road superintendent, said. "It's fairly old ... and it's narrow, one of the sides is starting to pull away, so we're going to replace it."

The box culvert will be more accommodating to rural traffic.

"Farm machinery will be able to travel more comfortably," Heiser said. "Farm equipment is pretty wide nowadays and takes quite a bit of the road. This way they don't have to be so careful, and when they cross they don't run one wheel off."

Replacing the bridge is part of an ongoing county effort.

Stark County has 44 such bridges that are 20 feet or less in length. Five are being removed this year, Heiser explained.

"There's no funding available for them so we're using county funds to replace them," he said. "We have a list of bridges that are 20 feet or longer. The state will only fund so many, so we've always got a waiting list with them, but we thought we'd get rid of these 20-foot and less here."

Wood bridges don't wear well, Heiser said.

"A lot of bridges have steel beams. They're more forgiving," he said. "But if you get a wood one and you snap one of those stringers, it's like a domino effect."

He added, "We're pretty excited to get rid of all these old bridges because they're always in the back of your mind."

Heiser and the county commissioners were surprised to receive a bid for the project that was nearly $100,000 under the estimated cost.

"It's a sign of the times," Heiser said. "Funding is down. The state didn't give the counties and cities as much funding as they did with the oil price dropping like it did, so there's not quite as much funding available to do a lot of these projects, and there's a fair amount of contractors around who are looking for work."

The project is expected to start after June 1, Heiser said, and should take less than two weeks to complete.

"They're pretty simple," he said. "Once you get the old bridge pulled out you dig the mud out, you grade the bed, set it in, the crane comes in, these pieces all come in... They swing them down in, push them together, put the anchors on, and wrap the seams... It doesn't take long at all."

The county is bundling three similar projects together into a single bid for March, including replacing two bridges south of Gladstone on 47th Street.

"They're only like a mile apart from each other. They can lay one and conceivably walk the crane to the next one, and only have to move one time," Heiser said. "Then we're going to put it along with another project south of Dickinson, by Schefield."