By Ken Ross
A planned bridge crossing Mill Creek on Old 21 Road has cleared a hurdle prior to bid letting on Oct. 18, Larry Clark, the Cherokee County engineer, informed the Cherokee County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday.
The state has given archeological clearance for work on the project. An archeological study is required before construction projects to ensure major artifact sites are damaged. There are federal funds involved in the project which carry some requirements.
The bridge, estimated at $650,000, may have some work done in 2005 with completion expected in 2006.
It will replace a pin connected high truss bridge built in 1891. The new bridge will be built about 100 feet from the old bridge with the old bridge remaining standing. The old bridge is designated as historic.
The current bridge has a low tonnage restriction and is a "fracture critical" structure, which means that if a fracture develops, it could soon develop into a situation that causes the bridge to collapse.
The new bridge will be one that can handle the weight of the traffic on the road.
"It will be a vast improvement. People will wonder how they got along without the bridge," Clark said.
As far as the old bridge, Clark is not impressed with its historic designation, calling it a monstrosity and predicting it will simply deteriorate until it collapses.
Clark said he had heard a suggestion that the bridge be covered with wood, which he initially thought was a crazy idea but then began thinking that it might make sense for some organization other than the county to do.
Jeff Simonsen, supervisor, indicated that Clark had it right with his initial impression. He noted that the bridge is historic in its present condition and covering a metal truss bridge with wood would not make it like the historic bridges of Madison County.
The county approved hiring an office manager for the engineer's office on a vote of 4 to 1.
Clark selected Janet Cedar, currently employed by Lundell Construction, from 39 applicants for the position, to be paid a a starting wage of $11.70 an hour with a raise to $13 after six months.
There was concern expressed by supervisors that this is a higher starting salary than for comparable positions in the courthouse.
"Will this be the talk of the courthouse, Bonnie?" Terry Graybill, supervisor, asked Bonnie Ebel, county auditor.
"Oh, yes," Ebel responded.
Clark said that the office manager for his office needs to respond to crisis situations and that he was impressed with the calmness of demeanor displayed by the person he selected for the position.
"I think she'll work well," Clark said.
Bud Clow, supervisor, acknowledged that the engineer's office is a different environment than the courthouse but continued to have misgivings about the wage difference. He was the only supervisor to vote against the proposed hiring. Clow said he had nothing against the person selected for the job.