Supervisors discuss bridge report
The Jefferson County Board of Supervisors met with county engineer Scott Cline Monday to discuss the county’s bridge report.
According to the report, there are 45 bridges in Jefferson County that are currently structurally deficient.
“What that means is that they are safe, but may have reduced weight limits,” supervisor Dee Sandquist said during an interview today.
“Actually, that number is pretty decent because we have 148 bridges in the county,” supervisor Lee Dimmitt said today, adding that he thought the number of deficient bridges might be even lower for the county because several bridges have recently been replaced with either boxed culverts or tanker cars.
“Those aren’t reflected in those numbers,” he said. “But on the same token, there are some that need to be added to the list. You replace some, then others need replacing.”
“It’s an ongoing process,” Sandquist said. “That’s why it’s important to keep infrastructure repairs going on a regular basis.”
Sandquist said 4,061 bridges have been deemed structurally deficient in Iowa. Around 217 bridges have been closed because they are no longer safe to travel on.
“None of those were closed in the county, as far as I know,” she said.
Dimmitt agreed, and said he wasn’t aware of any permanently closed bridges, either.
“Where we’ve closed bridges over the years, we’ve actually taken them out,” he said. “There are some that we’ve replaced with low-water crossings … but I’m not aware of any permanently closed bridges in Jefferson County.”
Dimmitt said Calhoun-Burns & Associates of West Des Moines, a firm the county hired to complete bridgework, recently suggested that the county shore-up a bridge on 148th Street that was in the process of having its weight limit lowered.
“We shored up a bridge to move it back from a [proposed] six tons to a 13-ton load limit,” Dimmitt said.
Cline said the road department had been told to lower the bridge, which was on a school bus route, to 6 tons, and the road department had started the process. However, after the directive from Calhoun-Burns & Associates, the bridge was returned to its 13-ton load limit. Several other bridges across the county are scheduled for replacement by either railroad tanker cars or boxed culverts.
In other news, the county supervisors approved the hire of Dave Taft to replace retiring county janitor Lonnie Hesseltine. Hesseltine has worked as the county’s janitor for 29 years. His last day is March 31.
“Lonnie [was] always there doing his job,” Dimmitt said. “When we’d come in in the morning hours, he’s been there before we arrive and everything was done — the place was clean, the snow shoveled, trees trimmed, lawn mowed … he took care of everything you tend to take for granted. There were times when he knew a storm was coming, and he’d stay overnight at the courthouse to make sure he was there in the morning to shovel snow — that’s the kind of dedication he had, and he will be greatly missed.”
Sandquist said Taft would have both janitorial and maintenance responsibilities.
“He was hired at a little bit higher rate, but we figured it was warranted for the cost savings in contracting out for repairs,” she said. “We had very well qualified applicants.”