Humboldt bridge report delayed because of flooding

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Local News

September 12, 2018 - 11:27 AM

In a “dog ate the homework” moment, Allen County commissioners learned Tuesday a comprehensive report on the condition of Humboldt’s Marsh Arch bridge conducted by a Manhattan firm was lost to recent flooding there.
Schwab Eaton engineering firm was on the cusp of handing its inspection report to Mitch Garner, director of Public Works, when more than 4 feet of water caused by heavy rains on Sept. 3 flooded the company’s office.
Garner said “it will be a while now” before a replacement report could be generated.
Concerns about degeneration of concrete — supporting steel is visible in places — on the underside of the bridge prompted inspection. Information will determine whether commissioners decide to repair the bridge, a ward of the county, or replace it.
The bridge was built in the 1930s as part of the Works Progress Administration assault on unemployment during the Great Depression.

COMMISSIONERS heard comments from two citizens concerning their consideration of whether to purchase all or part of the old Lehigh Cement Company property, about 250 acres altogether, including the 100-acre quarry that is now a lake.
Jonathan Adams, who moved to Iola two years ago, said the property, with the Lehigh Portland Trails and quarry, is an amenity that would benefit all of the county. He mentioned lakes and parks elsewhere under a county’s thumb.
“I love nature and I’m a photographer,” Adams said, with the Lehigh property, quarry and trails, being a perfect venue for him and like-minded people. The trails were created by volunteers, with proven demand and use, he said, adding that he had heard of no tragedies during the many years Iola Elks had leased the quarry and used it as a recreation area.
Chairman Jerry Daniels reiterated commissioners were committed to reviewing an appraisal that was expected before early January, when they will weigh on whether to buy all or a portion of the property, or none at all, from Iola Industries.
“There are a lot of questions about what the solution will be, lots of aspects to look at,” he said, noting a quarry filled with water is not the same as a lake and “we have lots of quarries in Allen County.
“Another entity could take the quarry and open it to the public,” he said. “The appraisal may spark (commissioners’) interest in a part of the property,” with that adjoining the county maintenance and repair shops being at the top of Daniels’ list.
Iolan Jack Franklin was not as optimistic as Adams.
“I don’t think there’s much support” for buying all or part of the property “outside of Iola,” he said. “I think it would give the county a lot of liability. There are lots of places to spend county money, on roads and bridges.”

IN OTHER NEWS, commissioners:
— Signed a document in support of the U.S. 169 Coalition, which means to encourage legislators to support improvement to the highway, between its four-lane end in Miami County and Coffeyville, to make the highway safer and more efficient. The ultimate goal is to upgrade it to four lanes throughout eastern Kansas.
— Scheduled a public meeting with chambers of commerce and city leaders personally invited in the assembly room at 6 p.m. on Sept. 26 to consider the wisdom of the county supporting Visit Allen County, which means to increase local tourism. Under auspices of Thrive Allen County, annual funding would be split, $25,000 from Thrive and $50,000 from the county. Commissioner John Brocker asked for the forum to get  a broader view of the proposal, and its funding. The forum will be open to the public.

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