“Deficient” bridges not a problem in Jackson County
Jackson County has fewer “deficient” bridges then most other northeast Kansas counties, according to information released by Norm Bowers, Kansas Association of Counties local road engineer.
In a monthly newsletter sent out by the KAC, Bowers outlined the number of deficient bridges in the state and discussed the “off-system bridge replacement program” available to help replace some of those bridges.
Bowers reported that there are a total of 4,041 “deficient” bridges in the state, which are bridges that aren’t able to handle their original legal load limits because of their outdated design or deterioration.
There are a total of nearly 25,000 bridges in Kansas, it was reported. That means 16.1 percent of the bridges in the state are “deficient.”
Harper County in the southern part of the state has a total of 155 “deficient” bridges, which is the most out of any county in the state. Additional counties with more than 100 deficient bridges include Sedgwick (147), Jewell (119), Smith (114), Marshall (113) and Butler (102).
While Jackson County has 24 bridges rated as “deficient,” it was reported that surrounding counties had more, with 53 in Pottawatomie County, 61 in Nemaha County, 51 in Brown County, 70 in Atchison County, 36 in Jefferson County and 67 in Shawnee County.
This year, the Kansas Department of Transportation has allocated more than $10 million in state funds through the off-system bridge replacement program to repair or replace deficient bridges in rural parts of the state.
Jackson County administrators applied for the program funds but none of the bridges submitted were selected as one of the 77 rural bridges to receive funding.
To receive “rural” funding, a bridge had to have a daily vehicle count of less than 100 and have a length between 20 and 50 feet.
A total of 71 counties, including Jackson County, applied for the program funds, and bridges in only 56 counties were selected.
One of the bridges submitted by Jackson County for the program was a fracture critical bridge at 324th and R Roads. The total cost to replace that bridge is estimated at $417,000.
Although the county was not selected for that special program, Jackson County regularly receives other state funds and grants to repair some of the county’s bridges, it was reported.
Jackson County has 196 bridges, which includes four “fracture critical” bridges.
A fracture critical bridge is a steel structure that is designed with little or no load path redundancy, according to the Kansas Department of Transportation. This means that if key supports fail, the bridge would be in danger of total collapse.
A fracture critical designation does not mean a bridge is unsafe, only that there is a lack of redundancy in its design, it was reported.
The county is required by federal regulations to inspect every bridge in the county every two years. Additional regulations took effect recently that requires the county to inspect all “fracture critical” bridges annually.
During a recent Jackson County Commission meeting, it was reported that KDOT has reduced the weight limit on the Iron Banister bridge north on old highway 75 from 13 ton to 9 ton. Signs have been installed to note the change.