BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
MONTROSE – A recent inspection of county bridges has resulted in additional weight restrictions being placed on 15 county bridges.
At Tuesday’s regular Lee County Board of Supervisor’s meeting, supervisors approved a resolution restricting the weights on the bridges bringing the total to 28 bridges in the county that have restrictions.
According to Lee County Engineer Ben Hull two of the bridges are currently closed due to severe decay. The first bridge is on Henry-Lee Street west of 130th Avenue in extreme northwest Lee County.
The other is just south of Primrose Road and 120th Avenue in western Lee County.
The board voted earlier this year to have Calhoun-Burns and Associates out of West Des Moines inspect the county’s bridges and the firm returned a report in September with the recommendations.
“Consultants took a look at a lot of our bridges and most of them are in the 40- to 50-year-old range,” Hull said.
“For the most part those are bridges that are in OK shape and are doing what they were intended to do, but not up to modern standards, evidently.”
Of the fifteen bridges that will be getting new weight restrictions, 10 are in the north half of the county. The county will pay about $800 per bridge for new signage, according to Supervisor Gary Folluo.
Hull said the most of the bridges have a straight truck limit of 28 tons with some going as low as 18 tons. Many of the bridges are also limited to one lane traffic.
Hull said he believes, in talking about the five-year program, there will be some increase in bridge replacement funding that will come as a result of the recent restrictions.
“The square feet of deficient bridges in your county is one factor that determines what share we get of all the state money. It should go up some,” Hull said.
Folluo asked if there was any federal money available and Hull said the county did just get a grant that’s going to help replace one of the bridges on the list.
He said the SWAP program which used to be federal money and is now funneled to states, gives the county about $240,000 annually out of that program. He said Farm-to-Market routes are also eligible for funding.
Supervisor Matt Pflug said it’s hard for counties to find money for bridge repair.
“That’s what you have to look at. Where do you get all this money, especially if it’s becoming a situation where it’s got to be dealt with right away. I mean – you don’t have any money.”
Hull said recent state mandated increases in weight limits for logging and propane industries isn’t doing state counties any favors.
Hull said the county is adjusting to some new laws that are allowing heavier weights including 96,000 lb semis.
Gov. Kim Reynolds recently relaxed weight limits for haulers of propane to get more of the fuel into the state for farmers due to late harvests. The governor also signed legislation this year that allowed loggers to run trucks on more of the state’s rural highways.