Archive for Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Leavenworth County Road 5 bridges 73 years in age to take 12 months to replace

May 24, 2011

A year may seem a long time for a heavily used county road to be closed, but another span of time may put it into perspective: 73 years.

That's the age of two bridges along Leavenworth County Road 5 northeast of Tonganoxie, according to county records. Last week, the county public works department began the process of demolishing and replacing the two bridges, both built in 1938.

“They've reached the end of their usefulness and their lifespan,” deputy public works director Mick Schwartzkopf said.

The bridges, which span across Stranger Creek, are between Mitchell Road and Donahoo Road. That stretch of County Road 5 will be closed until the bridges are replaced, and just how long that will take is tough to say, Schwartzkopf said.

“We're hoping it will be done within 12 months, if not sooner,” he said.

Weather and other issues make the exact duration of the project uncertain, he said. The project was originally scheduled to begin about a month-and-a-half earlier, he said, before weather and other complications forced a delay.

While the road is closed, the county suggests that drivers take the detour route of County Road 9 (or 207th Street), which branches off of County Road 5 just north of Tonganoxie and runs north to Dempsey Road. That route will divert drivers by only about one-and-a-half miles, Schwartzkopf said.

“Even though it will be an inconvenience, we feel fortunate that people won't have to go several miles out of their way,” Schwartzkopf said.

He said a high level of traffic, including a number of shipping trucks, would be displaced by the closing, but that traffic reinforced the need to replace the bridges.

About 200 students in the Tonganoxie School District regularly ride on that stretch of County Road 5 each day on buses, district transportation coordinator Melissa Ostermeyer said. That includes three buses that transport children to and from the district buildings, as well as some special-needs children who ride buses to Lansing, Leavenworth and Fort Leavenworth for services.

She said the bus route schedules would need to be adjusted by about five or 10 minutes at most. Major flooding in the area would force the buses to take lengthier detours, she said.

“It's inconvenient, yes, but looking at the whole big picture, the bridges really needed to be replaced,” Ostermeyer said.

Though several parents have contacted her asking about when the project would start, she said, the district has not heard any complaints about delays.

“It's something that we just have to deal with and move on,” Ostermeyer said.

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