ALBION — The Noble County Commissioners received a fairly positive, comprehensive report on the status of the 62 bridges it maintains during Monday’s regularly scheduled meeting.
“The bridges are currently safe,” United Consulting representative Scott Minnich said.
The county receives a bridge inspection report every two years, with some bridges which score low on a sufficiency scale being inspected yearly.
According to the United Consulting report:
• Noble County’s 62-bridge count is well below the Indiana county average of 144;
• The average age of Noble County’s bridges is 52 years, above the state average of 44 years.
• Noble County has 43.5% of its bridges which are 50 years or older, compared to the state average of 30.2%.
The federal government gives all bridges a sufficiency rating of between 0-100. Statewide, 7.4% of all bridges in Indiana have a sufficiency rating less than 50. Noble County’s total is 6.5%.
Minnich said the federal government had changed the requirements for determining the loads each bridge could handle. For decades, the federal government had required bridges to be inspected for the load bearing capacities in two categories: two-axle box trucks and semis. Now, the inspections are required to break that down into 17 different styles of vehicles.
A completed report on the 17 different load-bearing capabilities on each bridge is expected to the be delivered to the county in November, Minnich said.
A summary report from United Consulting highlighted the top three bridges on Noble County’s replacement list:
• Bridge 77 on C.R. 50W over Croft Ditch. Noble County Highway Department Engineer Zach Smith said replacement of this bridge was nearing completion.
• Bridge 55 on C.R. 600N over the south branch of the Elkhart River. This bridge will be replaced later this year, Smith said.
• Bridge 73 on C.R. 860W over Solomon Creek. According to Smith, the county will begin the process of replacing the bridge in 2020.
Also at Monday’s meeting, Smith told the commissioners that work on paving in the Brimfield subdivision would begin with the next week.
The county also agreed to advertise for an ordinance for the installation of a new stop sign as a result of paving work done in the Wawaka area.
Smith said that as the area was being paved, it was discovered there was no traffic control at the intersection of Tibbit and Decker streets. After doing a traffic study, it was determined that a stop sign was needed to halt eastbound and westbound traffic on Tibbit Street.
Smith said the stop sign should alleviate confusion at the intersection and could make it more safe.
The commissioners approved the low bid of $69,982.50 for Accurate Striping to do 102.5 million feet of striping on county roadways this year.
A representative from the St. Joe River Basin Commission reported to the commissioners that the commission had paid to have a water gauge placed onto Waldron Lake to help monitor conditions in the flooding-prone West Lakes area of Noble County. A gauge had previously been on the lake, but the Indiana Department of Natural Resources had pulled funding for the gauge.
The representative also reported the commission was studying flood alleviation measures in the area, including the strategic planting of trees as well as the potential of creating retention areas upstream from where the flooding occurs.