Structurally deficient bridge concerns board

MARSHALL – At its regular meeting Tuesday morning, the Lyon County Board listened to a report from County Engineer Aaron VanMoer about the recent Minnesota Department of Transportation inspection of a bridge on County Road 7. The timber slab bridge built in 1952, that sits just south of Minnesota Highway 23, now has required load restrictions because of a decayed timber pile.

“The weight restrictions are rather severe” said VanMoer. “These old timber bridges were not designed to carry loads capable of being hauled by new vehicles.” The weight restrictions bring down the allowed amount of weight on the bridge to about a half of the weight of what of a truck and its load usually weighs.

According to the Bridge Inspection and Load Rating report from MnDOT, a timber pile on the northeast abutment of the bridge is decayed. The damaged timber pile, however, does not hold load.

“It is not under a driving lane,” said VanMoer. “If it would have been, the bridge probably would have failed already.”

VanMoer added that County Road 7 sees 880 cars a day with a lot of semi traffic. Repairing the timber pile this summer would be pertinent to the bridge’s safety until it can be replaced. The estimated cost of replacing the timber bridge within two years using a box culvert is $200,000.

Concerns were raised about future enhancements to the County Road 7 and Highway 23 intersection and how it would affect the bridge. Plans to add a turn and acceleration lane to the south side of the intersection, the impact on the Meadow Creek flood-plain and the potential future overpass that would bring County Road 7 traffic over Highway 23. Moving the bridge south 200 feet is a potential fix for future improvement concerns but then engineers would need to ensure that the current flood-plain stays intact.

There were also questions from the board about who was in charge of enforcing the weight restriction rules. Sheriff Mark Mather responded to the board, saying that the Minnesota State Patrol enforces the restriction. If needed, he could request that they patrol the area until the piling is fixed and the load restrictions are removed.

In other business, three conditional use permits were granted for livestock and farming operations. John Wambeke of Taunton and Bo VanDe Inc. of Marshall were both granted CUPs to expand existing feedlots by constructing swine confinement barns. Steve and Nathan Williams were also granted a CUP to construct a new cattle barn on an existing feedlot.

The resignation of Jim Thomasson, road and bridge superintendent, effective June 26, was accepted. Thomasson worked the position for 30 years and plans to retire this summer. Chad Magnussen was promoted to assistant highway engineer, effective May 26. A new dispatcher was hired, Mary Wickstron, and will be starting June 9. Wickstron will bring her experience from working dispatch in Lincoln County to Lyon County this summer. The resignation of Steve Sammons, shift sergeant with the Lyon County Sheriff’s Department, effective June 3, was accepted.

Even though it is only May, at the end of its meeting, the board began consideration for adopting a schedule and process to develop the 2015 operating budget. Presentations and discussions will begin in August, and a final levy and budget will be adopted by Dec. 16.