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The Platte County Board of Supervisors this week approved a resolution that will allow an outside engineering firm to perform inspections of area bridges.

Resolution No. 19-25, which approves a contract allowing the Nebraska Department of Transportation to facilitate a consultant for two fracture critical bridge inspections in 2019, was passed unanimously Tuesday. Fracture critical bridges are those whose chronic damage could lead to a collapse at some point if not treated properly. Thus, they require specialized inspections.

“You need special equipment, you need a Snooper truck in there so you can get in there on the outside of those trusses,” said District 1 Supervisor Fred Liss. “It’s a very specialized inspection.”

Eight county bridges are considered fracture critical. Two of those, according to Highway Superintendent Mark Mainelli, are closed. Many of them were kit bridges built back in the 1920s and 30s, with some still having wrought iron fences for protection. Thus, the need for solid inspections of these bridges is very apparent.

“The importance (of inspection) is for public safety to monitor the condition of the structure,” Mainelli said.

The inspections can also provide insight on what bridges are too dangerous for motorists to pass. Two years ago, inspectors came to a bridge outside Lindsay and found that the bridge was fracture critical, meaning that it had to be closed for repairs.

“On a fracture critical bridge, if one component fails, the whole structure (fails),” Liss said. “There’s no structural redundancy.”

A list of bridges will be provided to the Platte County Highway Department before inspections begin in September. Only three bridges were inspected by the firm last year and even fewer are being put under the microscope this year. Funding for the inspections will come from the county’s Soft Match reserves.

This will be the last year that the state will facilitate bridge repairs through an engineering firm. In 2020, counties can choose their own firms for repair purposes, or they can do the repairs themselves through their highway departments. Mainelli said that the county does have in-house inspectors and the board could choose to use those particular people.

“The board will decide either (to) do it themselves or they’ll hire (someone else),” Mainelli said.

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Other meeting highlights:

*The highway department presented the yearly Title VI report. Jane Cromwell, Title VI coordinator for the highway department, said that her group had been proactive in its enforcement of Title VI regulations. This year has proven to be a good one regarding Title VI enforcement, as Cromwell said that no serious complaints were filed.

*A contract was approved for County Surveyor Tom Tremel for the 2019-20 fiscal year. No significant changes were made to the contract, as the basic structure has been used in prior years.

*A special designated permit was approved for St. Michael’s Catholic Church in Tarnov for its spaghetti dinner on Sept. 15. The date was moved from its traditional November time slot for weather-related reasons. An outdoor tent could be provided for the event, weather permitting.

*A date has been set for protest hearings on properties damaged by March’s flooding. The board will hear objections at 1 p.m. Sept. 3 inside of the Platte County Courthouse.

Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at zachary.roth@lee.net.

Get News Alerts delivered directly to you.

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

Zach Roth is a reporter for The Columbus Telegram. Reach him via email at zachary.roth@lee.net.

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