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Troubled Bridge

Several families in the Town of Luverne won't be washing their cars for the next couple of months.

That's because the bridge to their cozy sub-division is being replaced and until the $95,000 project is complete dirt and mud have taken over the entrance to their street.

Two weeks ago, Woodland Specialists, Inc. out of Chapman began a 45-day project to replace the old timber bridge on Country Lane Drive.

"This project is very unique because to replace it and to take

out the bridge, you've got about 28 families that live on the other side of this little bridge," JWM Engineering President Morris Tate explained. "So we had to construct this project in such a way that the contractor built half of the concrete culvert, the west half, and then we detoured traffic onto that half. Then we tore the bridge out to where now the contractor is working on the east half of the culvert. The two sections will be tied together to make one structure. The road will then be reconstructed across the center of it."

Woodland Specialist Area Manager Tony Peavy said rain has really dampened the project. Yesterday, Tate shut the project down until Tuesday while Hurricane Frances passes.

"Right now the rain is really messing it up," Peavy said. "They sealed it in yesterday (Tuesday), but we had a big rain and we had another rain today (Wednesday). We've got one half of the project complete. Hopefully next week dry weather will return and we can get back to work."

Tate mirrored Peavy's concerns over rain.

"Everything's been going smoothly except on last Wednesday when they were pouring the toe wall that the three-inch rain caught us and sort of washed away a lot of the concrete," Tate said. "The forms were not misaligned or anything, so they were able to wash it out Thursday morning and finished pouring the toe walls. This week, they'll be working to get the bottom poured to the east side. Once they pour the bottom, they'll then start forming up the walls and the top."

Tate, who's engineering firm is representing the City of Luverne, said the Federal State Highway Administration rated the old bridge structure below 50 percent. Following news of the rating, Luverne officials began seeking funds to finance the project.

State Sen. Wendell Mitchell and Rep. Charles Newton issued the City of Luverne a $200,000 state grant to offset the costs of a new bridge.

Tate said contractors have to follow very strict guidelines because the state is funding the project.

"Since this project is funded by the state everything has to abide by the state's specifications," Tate said. "When you take forms off, it requires an ordinary surface finish. So when they take the forms and brackets off that holds the forms together, they have to break those off and chip them back into the concrete, patch it back, rub and make it smooth."

Other bridges that have been replaced throughout Luverne in recent years include bridges on Hawkins Ave., Woodford Ave. and Glenwood Ave. The bridge on Mount Ida Rd. is the only bridge remaining that needs to be replaced.