New weight limits considered for Willard Bridge

ROSSVILLE (KSNT) — The state of Kansas is about to make a major change in how a critical bridge between Rossville and Willard is used.

If you have a student going to a USD 321 school, there may be some big changes on how your children get to school.

“It’s kind of scary, it is really narrow and I usually drive a big van so I get very nervous when I drive over it.”

What she is describing is the Willard Bridge in Rossville.

The Kansas department of transportation says that the bridge is becoming a safety hazard and something needs to be done.

Originally built in 1955, then upgraded in 1983, it’s now got five years or less until it *must be replaced.

Because of the deterioration of the ageing bridge the state of Kansas is recommending that Shawnee County lowers its weight limit saying that school buses shouldn’t be able to cross it.

“Our intention would be to lower the posting limits to nine tons, to 15 tons and 27 tons,” said Tom Vlach, Shawnee County Works Director.

The bridge is a primary route for the area.. Including USD 321 Kaw Valley schools, like Rossville Jr. and Senior High.

“If we have to go around on the maple hill bridge or on highway 75 west gate bridge that is at least an half hour trip,” said d Karry Lacock, USD 321 Superintendent.

Lacock tells KSNT News that if the proposed weight limit goes into effect USD 321 will be forced to add additional routes, use smaller buses and each would have to carry more students to get them to school over the alternate routes.

“We can see it from right here in from of the high school. It takes five minutes to get there,” said Lacock.

The state argues that the deteriorating bridge is held up by pins. Just like a paper clip if you bind it back and forth enough it will eventually break. The problem is money.

“I know I’ve made contact with our federal delegation and we have some meetings set up this week to find fracture critical funding…. It’s time to turn up the heat a little bit on this, not a little bit, a lot,” said Shelly Buhler, Shawnee County Commissioner.

Even if the money can be found – it will take 2-years to re-build.

If the states recommendations are approved after Thursdays commissioner meeting, the lower weight limits go into effect that same day.

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