The Ward Road Bridge likely won’t be completed until next summer and will remain closed this year after the Minnesota-based contractor in charge of the project decided last week that it wouldn’t pour the decking for the project before the Nov. 1 state deadline.
“They had plenty of time to do this. You can’t build a bridge with four people,” said Eric Corner, civil technician with Clark Engineering, which oversees the project being completed by contractor Robert G. Schroeder, a Goodwin, Minn., based company that earned the bid for the work. He spoke with Moody County commissioners last week to update them on the work.
The bridge has been closed for three harvests after it failed, and before that, had a load limit to cross it. The project, which was scheduled to be done in November, is being paid for with a state Bridge Improvement Grant that has a partial match from Moody County.
“What good are end dates?” asked Jerry Doyle, county commission chairman, out of frustration.
The contractor will be charged liquidated damages for each day after they start working this fall, said Adam Polley, project engineer with Clark Engineering. The price for each working day is $1,300, and damages are something that will be decided by the state after discussions with Clark Engineering and the contractor.
“Their plan is to do as much as they can this year yet,” he said. The company has only three people left working on the bridge. “They weren’t going to make it anyway. I think they’re finally realizing that.”
The first day the company would be allowed to pour the decking next year would be April 1, weather permitting.
Progress has been slowed, in part, by high water and equipment issues. The company also got behind earlier in the season because it didn’t have enough people working at the site, the engineers said. Now they are fighting lower temperatures.
“We can’t tell them how to run their company and assign more personnel to their site,” Corner said.
Other county bridges will be worked on yet this year, including the Doyle Bridge, which is a box culvert replacement. Workers should be on location the middle of this month and are scheduled to be completed before the end of November, said Marc Blum, county highway superintendent.
Repairs to the Gullickson Bridge also will start mid-month, he said. He had to close a section of that bridge last month when one corner of the bridge fell three inches. A cap on the northwest corner of that wooden structure rotten away, he said. The bridge is limited to one lane part of the way across and has load limits.
Someone has been moving cones on the bridge, he said. If that continues, he plans to close the bridge to all traffic.
During the fall harvest, farmers will have to use alternate routes to haul their crops, often making the trip to their bins or an elevator much longer.