2 bridges focus of projects in 2016

Two significant bridge projects, both in the western half of the county, are expected to be addressed by the Bartholomew County Highway Department in 2016.

As outlined by County Highway Engineer Danny Hollander, the bridges are located at:

County Road 400W near Snell’s Corner, south of the Tipton Lakes subdivision.

County Road 675W near Baker Hollow Road, about two miles east of the Brown-Bartholomew County line.

Earlier this month, the county announced plans to also spend about $400,000 to renovate the temporarily-closed Possum Glory Bridge on County Road 1150E near Hartsville next year.

“We generally do two bridge projects a year, so this will probably be it for 2016,” Hollander said.

Due to deterioration, the load limit on the structure along County Road 400W, legally called Bridge 249, has been lowered from 16 tons to 12 tons, Hollander told the Bartholomew County Commissioners Monday.

Although the current bridge has several flaws that warrant a complete replacement, the initial study will determine whether that is an affordable option, Hollander said.

As approved by the commissioners, all preliminary design work for the 400W project, which will include cost estimates, will be handled by consulting firm DLZ Indiana.

Meanwhile, the structure on 675W, legally known as Bridge 326, is now just a low water crossing, rather than what most people would consider a bridge, Hollander said.

“Right now, it just allows you to drive through a creek,” Hollander said. “We’re also looking at constructing a legitimate bridge there. But it’s a big job, and a lot will depend on the cost estimates we get.”

If new bridges are approved for both sites, they will be able to carry any type of vehicular traffic, the highway engineer said.

The Indianapolis-based engineering firm of Butler, Fairman and Seufert Inc. was approved by the commissioners to handle design work and cost estimates for that project.

“Both of these are kind of complicated,” Hollander said. “The topography at these two sites is unusual. That’s why we only have approval to begin the first phase, so we can see what we’re getting into.”

In order to address a fiscal crisis, the commissioners agreed to transfer to the General Fund up to $1.4 million originally designated for road work next year.

It’s estimated there will be just over $600,000 for county road work at the end of the year, according to the Bartholomew County Auditor’s office.

In contrast, those same estimates show the Cumulative Bridge Fund should have almost $1.9 million on Jan. 1.

“The bridge money, which is in a separate pot, remains intact,” Hollander said. “It wasn’t impacted (by the fiscal crisis).”

The Cumulative Bridge Fund is a property tax-based fund, with a statutory maximum rate of 10 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.

It raises significantly more money in urbanized counties because revenues are generated in proportion to the net assessed value of the property, according to Purdue University experts.

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Mark Webber is a reporter for The Republic. He can be reached at mwebber@therepublic.com or 812-379-5636.