Redwood Falls Gazette
  • Report shows bridges deemed structurally deficient

  • According to the Redwood County highway department, there are 291 bridges in the county. A new report by Sen. Al Franken's office says some of them are structurally deficient, and need serious repair work.

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  •   A report made public by Sen. Al Franken Sept. 23 lists the number of bridges deemed structurally deficient in the state. The list offers a county-by-county listing of the bridged making that list, and according to the report, there are 34 bridges in Redwood County which would be deemed structurally deficient. That report, which uses information collected in 2009, is not entirely accurate, said Willy Rabenberg, Redwood County highway engineer. He said the county inspects its bridges annually, which means the two-year-old report does not list any of the inspections conducted in 2010 or any of the inspections done this year. Rabenberg said there are 291 bridges in Redwood County the county has a responsibility to inspect, although that list includes every bridge in the county – including those under the jurisdiction of the townships and municipalities. The list from Franken’s office only includes 194 bridges, and Rabenberg said that could be due to the fact that the federal government defines a bridge as anything with at least a 20-foot span. The state definition includes anything with at least a 10-foot span. Yet, said Rabenberg, there are certainly deficient bridges in the county. In fact, said Raben-berg, some of the bridges on the list are actually listed as structurally deficient and are scheduled to be replaced either yet this year or in the not too distant future. The issue, said Rabenberg, is the list constantly changes. He said in the past year and a half the count has taken five bridges off the structurally deficient list as they are either repaired or replaced, but in the meantime another seven took their place. With more than 290 bridges on the list in the county and each bridge having an estimated life of 75-100 years, that would require having to do about three bridges per year in order to keep up with the upgrades. Rabenberg, who presented the annual bridge resolution to the county board at its meeting this past Tuesday, which was adopted, listed a number of bridges which are structurally deficient and are considered a high priority. That list indicates the bridges Rabenberg hopes can be repaired or replaced within the next five years. There are 34 bridges on that list to be fixed. However, the challenge is finding funds to make the work happen. In order to qualify for state funding, a bridge must have an efficiency rating of less than 80, while federal funding requirements for funding require an efficiency rating of 50 or less. Rabenberg said many of the bridges in the county are being replaced with box culverts, which he said farmers appreciate, as there are no railings to hinder the movement of larger equipment. The CSAH 10 Bridge, which has been closed for some time is going ot be open soon, said Rabenberg, but it is going ot remain gravel until next season when the pavement is going to be added. The swayback bridge in Ramsey Park is also closed to vehicle traffic, and Rabenberg said that process of repair is moving forward. He roughly estimated the cost to repair that bridge is going to be in the $400,000 area, with hopes for half in bond funding dollars and the rest covered by legacy funds from the state. As of Sept. 21 the section of CSAH?4 from CSAH?1 to CSAH 13 is currently closed for bridge construction.