Bridge work rolling along
Despite unexpected pitfalls, work is progressing according to schedule on a new bridge over Stranger Creek.
The problems have mounted recently. Vandals refuse to leave the place alone. And the rock base beneath the footings is a lot harder than expected.
Workers already have completed footings for the east side of the bridge and now are working on footings on the west side. As with the east side, this is proving to be more difficult than anticipated.
"The plans originally showed us that we were excavating into nothing but shale," according to John Lillig, who is Leavenworth County projects activities coordinator for the Kansas Department of Transportation.
"But it's basically solid limestone," he added.
Also the rock is thicker than expected, Lillig said.
"We've got five to seven feet of rock that we're going to have to jackhammer out before we can start the footing for the pier."
Because this area is in the creek bed, a makeshift shelter had to be built to avert water from the area. To get in and out, workers climb a 10-foot ladder on each side of the shelter. As they carry the pieces of rock to a bucket on a crane, mud up to their ankles sucks at their boots.
Even though this back-breaking effort likely has added about two weeks to the project, Lillig said he anticipates the bridge to be completed in May on time.
"We were actually ahead of schedule because the weather has been so cooperative in allowing us to work out here in the middle of January," Lillig said.
Not everything has been as cooperative as the weather.
Dale Henderson, a crane operator from Wamego, said vandalism has slowed down the construction.
"They've cut hydraulic lines, removed radiator caps and put material in the fuel tanks," Lillig said. "Seems like small items but it costs the contractors a considerable amount of time and money. There have been days when the equipment was vandalized to the point that a full work day was not able to be performed."
The bridge is being built by the A.M. Cohron and Son Corp., Atlantic City, Iowa, Lillig said. King Construction, Oskaloosa, handled demolition of the old bridge, dirt and rock work and reworking the channel of the stream. Total cost of the new bridge is $536,000.