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The Rolla Daily News - Rolla, MO
  • Verkamp encouraged by possible solutions for low-water crossing

  • A Phelps County commissioner is hopeful about the future of addressing a low-water crossing east of St. James after a discussion he had Thursday with an engineer on possible solutions for the structure.
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  • A Phelps County commissioner is hopeful about the future of addressing a low-water crossing east of St. James after a discussion he had Thursday with an engineer on possible solutions for the structure.
    Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp met with Mark Huck, of Burns & McDonnell’s Kansas City office, at the site of the crossing over a branch of the Dry Fork Creek on County Road 3620, just east of Private Drive 3625.
    The county commission has approved using Burns & McDonnell to perform a BEAP (Bridge Engineering Assistance Program) study for that crossing.
    “I was delighted by the conversation I had with Mark,” Verkamp told The Rolla Daily News by phone Friday. “He showed a willingness to come up with low-cost alternatives to repair the existing structure.”
    According to Verkamp, Huck said one possible solution at the bridge site is to saw out an existing slab at the County Road 3620 bridge, pour new abutment walls and then reinstall the slab.
    “Two things, if this strategy is successful — one it would dramatically lower the cost and two it would increase the water drainage capacity.”
    Currently, because part of the bridge is plugged up, water tops the driving surface during heavy rains.
    “It would diminish the role of a dam and increase the role of a bridge,” Verkamp said.
    County commissioners initially had requested obligating Bridge Replacement Off-System (BRO) funds for a new structure there, but later retracted their request after an estimate came back that stated a replacement structure there would cost nearly half a million dollars, Verkamp said.
    Verkamp said the commission is hoping that Burns and McDonnell can come up with a “cookie-cutter” design structure that could be applied at several low-water crossings across the county. He added that it would not be feasible to spend nearly half a million dollars on each of those crossings.
    However, Verkamp said possibilities that Huck mentioned Thursday could be used across the county.
    “I have hard time containing my enthusiasm for this potential,” Verkamp said. “In the event this can be successfully engaged, yes it could be used in multiple applications in the county. I’m excited about that prospect. There’s a ray of hope.”
    Verkamp said Huck will draw up some sketches and look at three or four possible surface strategies. No timeline was set for Huck to present his suggestions to the commission, but Verkamp said he expects to hear back from Huck in a reasonable amount of time.
    “He brought some fresh thinking to table,” Verkamp said of Huck, who is a graduate of the University of Missouri-Rolla (now Missouri University of Science and Technology).
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