Shawnee County seeks to replace aging Kansas River bridge

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Shawnee County officials have been working to make sure that state and federal officials are aware of efforts to replace a decaying bridge.

The latest effort was from Shawnee County Commissioner Bob Archer, who spoke with U.S. House Speaker John Boehner about Willard Bridge while Boehner was attending a recent fundraiser for U.S. Rep. Lynn Jenkins, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Archer told commissioners Thursday he attended a fundraiser for Jenkins in a southwest Topeka neighborhood, where Boehner was campaigning for the congresswoman. During the event at a private residence, Archer told Boehner about the $24.7 million project to replace the bridge over the Kansas River. Archer said he gave Boehner a fact sheet about the bridge and explained the county’s situation.

“I think it was received well,” he said. “The Secret Service didn’t throw me against a wall.”

The bridge was built in 1955 and has had significant structural issues, including holes caused by corrosion in a floor beam at the north end of the bridge. The County has lowered the weight limit to 9 tons to delay with the decay. The bridge’s sufficiency rating, which measures a bridge’s fitness on a 0-100 scale, was above 61 until 2012, but in January, it was measured at 23.7.

The commission also approved a letter requesting up to $10 million in a Kansas Department of Transportation loan to help replace the bridge.

In February, the commission also sent letters to Jenkins, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran and U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts requesting their help getting federal assistance.

Commissioner Shelly Buhler also met with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx in August to discuss federal funding for the bridge, and in June the county applied for a $16.7 million transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery grant.

“We’re trying to cover all our bases to get funding for that bridge,” Archer said.


Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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