Starke County’s Oldest Bridge to Be Replaced With a Culvert


The Starke County Highway Department is poised to save more than $300,000 by contracting out the replacement of a bridge with a culvert. Highway Superintendent Rik Ritzler told the county commissioners Monday night the bridge on 900 South half a mile west of U.S. 421 is the lowest rated in the county.

Ritzler says it can be replaced with a culvert, as streams that once flowed through the area have been redirected since the bridge was constructed in 1930. The surrounding land is not conducive to a concrete box culvert, but Ritzler says the addition of three concrete pipes will accomplish the same thing for considerably less money.

He says the highway department originally set aside $75,000 to do the work themselves, but have instead opted to contract it out. Ritzler notes the concrete bridge was built in 1930. He says the highway department’s heavy equipment is designed for maintenance and not construction, and trying to take the bridge out may damage their excavator. Additionally, Ritzler says some of the existing structure will be maintained to facilitate the pipe installation. He says the contractor is much better at what he calls “selective demolition.”

Ritzler adds replacing the bridge would cost the county $367,000 in combined construction and maintenance costs over the next 20 years. An aluminum box culvert would carry a price tag of between $171,000 and $221,000 over the same period of time. Construction of a culvert with three concrete pipes, as he’s proposed, will cost $53,350, with total maintenance costs of less than $2,000 over the anticipated 20 year life span.

The new surface will be 28 feet wide per the county’s new standard for bridges.

Ritzler says the county sent out three requests for bids via email as per the State Board of Accounts guidelines and got one response. He told the commissioners he’s pleased with the price the county was offered. The commissioners approved the work unanimously.