County engineer John McDonald says updating and replacing the 250 bridges in the county is a point of emphasis.
“It’s something we always have tried to do,” McDonald says. “We keep a five-year-plan for a replacement schedule.”
Currently, 20 county bridges are on the list to be replaced over the course of the next five years. McDonald says bridges requiring weight restrictions carry the most priority and are put on the schedule as soon as possible.
Ultimately, the number of bridges replaced in the county depends on federal and state funding cycles.
The Minnesota State Legislature passed a $500 million bonding bill earlier this year with $33 million earmarked specifically for township and county bridges.
“We were able to tap into those funds,” McDonald says. “We are always grateful when the state votes to improve transportation.”
To apply for funding, county employees complete bridge safety inspections and then send information into the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).
“MnDOT analyzes the information and sends back a sufficiency rating on all of our bridges,” McDonald says. “The lower the rating, the more funding we receive.”
At Tuesday’s commissioners meeting, the board approved to move forward with designing a new bridge MnDOT labeled as structurally deficient.
Erickson Engineering will begin plans to replace bridge 5201 on County State Aid Highway (CSAH) 2 west of U.S. Hwy. 169.
McDonald also reported to the board bridges on County Road 126 and CSAH 16 are nearing completion and should be completed before winter barring any major delays.