The Boone County commissioners voted to close a county road to allow repairs to a deteriorating culvert.
Earlier this year, SJCA, an Indianapolis-based engineering firm, inspected the county’s more than 300 small structures, which are called culverts and defined as bridges less than 20 feet in length, in what was the county’s first load-rate analysis of its small structures. SJCA found 16 small structures failed to meet legal load-bearing standards, and four of the 16 were noted for their exceptional deterioration.
One of the four small structures, at C.R. 900 W., was conservatively rated for a 6-ton limit; the other three were conservatively rated for an 8-ton limit (unmarked county bridges have a load-rate of at least 20 tons). All four roads – C.R. 300 S, C.R. 900 W., C.R. 750 N. and C.R. 400 E. – were considered for closures at Monday’s commissioners’ meeting.
Feeling the structure at 900 W. was not safe even with warning signs, the commissioners, who are tasked with maintaining the county’s public roadways, chose to close the county road. They chose not to close the other three roads, instead opting to post warning signs while repairs and replacements occurred.
A half-mile detour route was proposed for the 900 W. closure, located 0.1 miles south of C.R. 100 S. The proposed detour route would channel traffic on C.R. 950 W.
Boone County Highway Dept. Director and County Engineer Craig Parks estimated the construction on the culverts would take a minimum of eight months to complete.
“We will be moving as quickly as we possibly can at getting these repaired and back up to a higher load rating,” Boone County Commissioner Jeff Wolfe said.
Parks, at a prior meeting, estimated many emergency vehicles and school buses could exceed the four culverts’ current weight limit. Parks has coordinated with school districts and county dispatch to reroute such vehicles to ensure their safety and the safety of their occupants.
An SJCA representative recommended the county inspect the four small structures every six months to monitor their structural integrity.
The Boone County commissioners said warning signs would not always protect against errant drivers, but, they said, there are not enough sheriff’s deputies to monitor the culverts for errant drivers at all times.
Two separate county culverts were replaced earlier this year, Parks said, each costing an estimated $200,000. The Boone County Council will weigh the county’s funding options for the four culvert repairs at its September meeting.