County approves bridge inspection money

The Washington County Commissioners have approved a contract for $203,000 for a detailed inspection of two bridges flagged by the county engineer.

At the commissioners’ meeting Tuesday afternoon, engineer Roger Wright brought forward a request to have inspections done on the Putnam and Lowell bridges over the Muskingum River.

Wright said the design of both bridges made the inspections prudent.

The Putnam bridge, he explained, was one of the first in the country to use cast-in-place concrete segmental design, which includes tensioning cables as an internal part of the bridge structure. The concrete pieces are cast in place and internal steel cables are then tensioned to pull all the pieces tightly together. The channels within the concrete that house the cables are then sealed with grout.

Wright said similar bridges, noting one in Florida, have shown evidence of cable corrosion because moisture became trapped inside the cable channels.

“It’s been noticed in bridges of that era, sometimes they get water in there and it can’t leak out, and that causes corrosion,” he said. “The question is, do we check the Putnam bridge, or not spend the money, possibly let it corrode, and leave the problem for somebody else?”

Wright said the bridge was built in 1998 and cost $4 million. The process is expensive because it’s invasive, requiring holes to be drilled to inspect the cable. He said a local engineering firm, Burgess & Niple, has a specialist who could evaluate it.

Wright noted that the engineer’s office had held off several projects because of the road damage from winter storms, but now that the county has assurance that the cost of road repairs will mainly be born by the federal and state governments, he wants to go ahead with the bridge inspections.

The Lowell bridge, he said, is the same type of structure and will cost about $32,500 to inspect.

He emphasized that the bridges are safe but he feels the inspections are needed.

“I’d like us to do this study now and get it fixed if that’s what it takes to stay ahead of this,” he said.

The commissioners – David White and Ron Feathers – voted to approve the study.

Commissioner Rick Walters was on vacation, and the meeting was held Tuesday instead of the normal weekly Thursday time because Feathers was scheduled to be gone as well on that date.

In other business, the commissioners:

¯ Approved an appropriation of $116,000 to the Children Services Department for cost of foster placements.

¯ Approved a request for just more than $900 for the county jail to purchase equipment for inmates to view a state-produced educational video on the dangers of sexual assault in prisons and jails – Feathers noted that the expenditure was required for the jail to remain in compliance with state regulations.

The next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. Aug. 16 at 204 Davis Ave.

Washington County Commissioners

¯Resolved to create a new fund for unclaimed money at the request of Washington County Auditor Bill McFarland.

¯Appropriated just more than $900 for the purchase of equipment that will allow inmates of the county jail to view educational videos on the danger of sexual assault in prison and jail.

¯Approved an appropriation of $116,000 to the Children Services office for payment of foster care placement.