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County to take part in pilot bridge program

The Taylor County Highway Commission voted at its meeting on Tuesday for the county to be the sponsor of the Hedland Bridge project for a new pilot program in the state.

Highway commissioner Ben Stanfley told the committee there was a new pilot program for the replacement of low-risk bridges, but in order to participate in the program, the county would have to be the local sponsor for the project. He said it was a good program that would allow the design and engineering work for a bridge project to be completed faster and since the program used state instead of federal funds, there would be less in-depth federal regulations involved and would help to reduce the cost of the project.

Stanfley said as the sponsor, the county would be billed for the local government’s 20 percent of the project’s cost and would then bill the towns of Goodrich and Greenwood for their share. While he didn’t have the exact figures, Stanfley said the county’s share would be approximately $56,000 with each town contributing around $28,000 toward the project.

The highway committee also approved a request from the town of Deer Creek for bridge aid to replace a culvert on Oriole Drive.

Stanfley said the current culvert is a 60-inch by 40foot squashed steel culvert and the town would like to replace it with a 60-inch round plastic one. He said he doesn’t recommend using a plastic culvert of that size due to problems with them. Stanfley said his concern is that a squashed 60-inch culvert is 47 inches high and with a 60-inch culvert, the town would either have to bury it deeper in the ground or add more fill over the top which could result in a raised area across the road. He said an aluminized steel squashed culvert would cost $8,892 and a plastic culvert would cost $7,658. The cost would be divided evenly between the county and town.

Members of the committee were not in favor of a plastic culvert due to problems with relatively new plastic culverts cracking and the tendency for the ends of plastic culverts to come up out of the ground. The committee approved bridge aid for the more expensive steel culvert.

Following a closed session on how to make the highway department more efficient to save the county money, the committee voted unanimously to approve a motion to combine the shop superintendent position and the parts and purchasing clerk position into a shop and parts manager position, approve the job description for the shop and parts manager and promote Rick Dowden to the position, and to eliminate the shop superintendent position. Fred Ebert, who holds both the shop superintendent and county airport manager positions, will continue as the airport manager.