7th Street bridge ‘a wash’ after rainfall destroys patchwork

Wednesday, April 26, 2017
The bridge crossing Flat Creek along 7th Street, which runs through the city park and initially sustained damages from the 2015 floods, was finished off by recent rainfall when patchwork was washed away and the surface damaged. For resident safety, the city has closed the bridge, begun a demolition process and is seeking a contractor to build a new and improved structure. The bidding process will be opened April 27. Julia Kilmer/reporter@cassville-democrat.com

Bridge off limits while city works to build new structure

The low-water bridge crossing on 7th Street in the city park is now “a wash” after recent rainfall finished off patchwork the city had completed to repair damage from the 2015 floods.

In the interim, the bridge will be off limits while the city works to find a contractor and have a new bridge structure built. Temporary repairs were out of the question due to safety, according to City Administrator Steve and Public Works Director Robert Forrest.

“We had some previous damage from the 2015 floods, which we had patched, and we had a plan underway and funding from FEMA to make repairs, but this last rain [episode] pulled out the patchwork and did additional damage to the surface, which made the bridge unstable for us to patch again and still keep it in service,” Walensky said. “The rain destabilized the bridge to point that we could not put a patch back in there and keep it safe. A lot of school buses go that way. So our only option was to begin demolition, which was our [original] plan anyway.”

The city will have more information on when access can be restored for those who travel along 7th Street, including families who utilize the park, after a contractor can be selected.

A bidding process will be opened for contractors as of 2:30 p.m. April 27.

“We’re marching through this as fast as we can, and when we are able to engage with a contractor, then can look at establishing milestone dates,” Walensky said.

The good news is, the city started the demolition process last week, and due to damages from the previous flooding episodes, they had already planned to replace the bridge and have FEMA funds to help pay for it.

“It was already in the works,” Walensky said. “Mother Nature just moved our schedule up. We’ll be able to fix it faster than if we were just now trying to figure out what to build.”

The city is reviewing designs, and whichever design is selected, the new bridge will be an improvement upon the old, Walensky said. Cost will be determined after contractors place bids, but the goal is to get the best design for the best price, Walensky said.

Walensky said Flat Creek, where a local contractor has been steadily working to remove gravel, debris, and widen banks, did not overflow its banks during recent rains.

The city hired Barry County Ready Mix last year to remove tons of gravel and debris in and along the creek to encourage the flow of water through the city and discourage flooding as part of an ongoing commitment and new initiative to address the flooding problem.

Walensky said Brian Stehlik of Barry County Ready Mix, was on site at the creek at 4 a.m. the morning of the rains last week during which almost 3 inches of rain fell, clearing debris to help prevent another flooding episode. While those rains did produce a large amount of water, they were still not as heavy as in 2015. When parts of Highway 112, Main Street, 13th Street and Fair Street in Cassville flooded in July 2015, Flat Creek in Jenkins had crested at 19.84 feet. Last week, it crested at about 14.5 feet.

Working to stem the risk of floods in town, Barry County Ready Mix can currently be seen working in the area behind Fasco along Sale Barn Road.

Walensky said the city made contacts with local agencies such as the police, hospital, funeral homes and schools to inform them of the temporary bridge closing. But he also wanted to make residents, who utilize the park and enter or exit the park via the bridge, aware and keep them informed.

“We’ve got ball season starting, so it’s going to impact our citizens using the parks,” he said. “We’re diligently working on developing dates and should be able to have a contractor come before council on May 8. I certainly appreciate the patience of our citizens that use the bridge, and, want to relay to them that, rest assured, we are working aggressively to get it reopened.”

Residents visiting the park are reminded to discourage children from playing near the demolition and construction area to keep them safe.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: