Construction of a new bridge on County Road 5240 over Beaver Creek south of Rolla has come to a halt after concerns were raised about the slope of the crossing.
“It looks like the ‘Dukes of Hazzard,’” District Two Commissioner Bud Dean said.
Phelps County Commissioners met on Thursday morning with Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) officials, the project consultant and general contractor to discuss how to address the issue of the hight of the center of the bridge.
Spencer Jones, of Great River Associates, the project consultant, said that after beams were set on the bridge Nov. 1, he noticed that there was “more a slope on the bridge than anticipated.”
Jones noted that the center pier is about 10 inches higher than the end piers and that there is an approximate 2 percent slope from either end to the middle of the bridge.
All three commissioners also visited the site that day to watch the beams be set. Dean said he noticed the slope at the time, too.
“There’s no structural problem,” Jones said, noting that the issue deals more with the ability to ride smoothly across the bridge.
A MoDOT inspection took place Nov. 7 and the consultant was notified of the slope, so the consultant recommended that work stop on the project until possibilities to address the slope were discussed.
Jones said the general contractor, Brenneke Construction, LLC, of Jefferson City, was using the consultant’s plans when constructing the piers, but that the plans had a discrepancy in the elevations and dimensions.
“We had involvement with the discrepancy in the plan ... We take some responsibility,” Jones said, noting that the consultant will bear some of the costs “out of pocket” and will work with Brenneke to address the issue.
Jones was unsure of the additional costs expected, but the county and MoDOT will not be responsible for any of those expenses.
It was decided at Thursday’s meeting that the beams should be taken off and that the center pier should be lowered by cutting off the top part of the pier.
Jones had initially recommended overlaying the concrete beams with asphalt to lessen the slope and Wayne Brenneke, of Brenneke Construction, said he thought asphalt would be a sufficient solution.
“It’s the easiest solution to get the road back open,” Brenneke said, noting that it may take an additional three weeks to lower the center pier.
“With asphalt, you could open the bridge in two weeks,” Brenneke said.
So far, the contractor has used 42 working days out of the 75 allowed in the contract, Jones noted. “We’re still within that window,” Jones said.
However, Dean said, “I’m in favor of lowering the middle pier,” adding that the bridge will be around for about 100 years.
Dennis Brady, MoDOT senior construction inspector, mentioned three options — do nothing, lower the center pier, which he said would be cost-prohibitive, or raise the end of the beams. Brady said there is a strong possibility that MoDOT will not accept an asphalt overlay as a solution.
Brady said whatever solution is agreed upon, it must be cleared through MoDOT’s bridge department.
“It’s a poor situation,” Dean said. “I feel sorry for everyone involved.”
“We sure want to get it right,” said Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp.
All parties involved agreed that no working days will be counted until MoDOT approves the plan to lower the center pier and the commission gives the OK to proceed.
Also at the meeting, it was noted that the county has not received its reimbursement through the federal Bridge Replacement Off-System (BRO) for the project.
Brenneke was told that the county is expected to receive the reimbursement by Nov. 30. However, because MoDOT has not yet approved the reimbursement, Brenneke said he has not been paid yet for the project.
At the Oct. 18 commission meeting, commissioners approved a payment of $86,918.30 to Brenneke.