By Ivan Raconteur
Despite agreeing to take over McLeod County Road 84 and Bridge 5881 over the Crow River in order to get the bridge replaced this year, Bergen Township residents may need to wait until next year before they are once again able to drive across the bridge south of Lester Prairie.
“There is no question about whether or not we are going to get a new bridge. The only question is whether it will be open this year or next spring,” McLeod County Commissioner Ray Bayerl said. Bayerl represents the 1st District, which includes Lester Prairie and Bergen Township.
The McLeod County Board awarded the bridge replacement to Duininck Bros. of Prinsburg Aug. 19.
The $750,718 winning bid was the lowest of five bids received, but was considerably higher than the county’s original estimate of $450,000 (from the Dec. 7, 2007 press release).
It was also higher than interim estimates for the project.
Bayerl said it is his understanding that it will take 65 construction days to complete the project, and it will be up to the contractor to determine when to stop construction for the season.
It will come down to the weather, and according to McLeod County Engineer John Brunkhorst it could have cost another $50,000 to $100,000 to guarantee completion of the bridge this year. The extra costs would have come from overtime and the cost of heating the bridge deck so it would set properly.
Bayerl said if finishing the bridge this year had been added to the bids, the extra cost would have been all county dollars.
He said removal of the existing bridge is expected to start soon.
The bridge was closed Dec. 7 after an inspection revealed structural deficiencies.
Replacement of the bridge has been the subject of a number of meetings between the county and the township.
Township residents wanted the bridge replaced right away. The county said the bridge was scheduled to be replaced in 2010, and it did not have the money to replace it sooner would be for the township to take over the bridge and County Road 84 so township bridge funds from the state could be used for the project.
After several meetings, township residents voted to take over the bridge in June.
Timeline of events after bridge closing
• Dec. 7, 2007 - Bridge closed due to structural deficiencies.
• Jan. 10, 2008 - Meeting including Bergen Twp. and McLeod Co. Township board says no decision can be made until annual meeting.
• Feb. 7, 2008 - County says $5,000 cost of study for possible reopening to light traffic is too high.
• March 11, 2008 - County Engineer John Brunkhorst meets with township again. Committee is formed to study possible agreement for township to take over County Road 84 and the bridge so the bridge can be replaced this year. Annual meeting is continued.
• April 15, 2008 - Continuation of annual meeting results in tie vote on question of township taking over bridge. Meeting is continued again.
• June 12 2008 - Township residents vote to take over bridge in exchange for $150,000 and county agreeing to perform all maintenance through 2023.
• Aug. 19, 2008 - Bids awarded for replacement of the bridge.