County will attempt to find funding for bridge replacement using MoDOT program

By Laura Schiermeier, Staff Writer
Posted 3/16/22

MARIES COUNTY— The Maries County Commission will be applying for assistance through the Bridge Engineering Assistance Program (BEAP) in an attempt to get some limited engineering assistance to …

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County will attempt to find funding for bridge replacement using MoDOT program

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MARIES COUNTY— The Maries County Commission will be applying for assistance through the Bridge Engineering Assistance Program (BEAP) in an attempt to get some limited engineering assistance to find out if funding can be secured to replace two older county bridges.

A representative of Great River Engineering (GRE) of St. Louis, Jeff Banderet, PE, CFM, attended a recent county commission meeting and made the commissioners aware of the BEAP program. The program is a way to get a free engineering report on the cost to fix or replace low water crossings, culverts and bridges. The report is then used to pursue funding through grants or other sources. There is no cost to the county for this engineering report, which is paid for by MoDOT through the BEAP. 

Presiding Commissioner Victor Stratman asked if having the report done would obligate the county to fix or replace a bridge or slab. Banderet said no, but MoDOT doesn’t want the county to keep using the BEAP to generate reports on projects the county never initiates. 

Banderet said his company will come and inspect the bridge, do the measurements and a hydraulic study, and give the county options and an estimated cost. 

Eastern District Commissioner Doug Drewel asked if the work includes core drilling. Banderet said not usually because that is a design service. He said this is a preliminary service and the cost is about $5,000, which MoDOT pays for. He said GRE is a full service engineering company. If Maries County decides to do a bridge with the company, they will do all of the engineering services and paperwork. 

He told the commissioners there is a new system with BRO. It is 100 percent funding, but done at a regional level as with MRPC. He encouraged the commissioners to document all of their road work, saying if they improve a crossing, to document and send it to MoDOT to add to the county’s soft match, which is used for a BRO project. 

He said there also is money available through Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). 

Stratman said they’ve talked about the need to replace the bridge on MCR 213 over Fly Creek. It’s an old WPA bridge that gets a lot of traffic. It has a 15 ton weight limit and some heavy traffic has to detour around the bridge. 

Banderet said the applications for the BEAP should not be delayed as MoDOT will run out of money in that fund in July. MoDOT puts more money in the fund each year, about $100,000, which is enough to do about 30 projects. 

After Banderet left, the commissioners discussed the BEAP. Western District Commissioner Ed Fagre said it would not hurt to use the BEAP to look at the possibilities of replacing the Fly Creek Bridge if the county can get some grant or infrastructure money. Drewel said there is a slab that needs to be a bridge on MCR 409 over the Lower Peavine. He said the crossing is in very bad shape. 

Banderet was back the following week. He said MoDOT had approved the county’s request to use the BEAP program to do the initial assessment of the bridge on MCR 213 and the slab on MCR 409. 

Stratman talked about the Zoom meeting he was part of about the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money. Missouri Association of Counties (MAC) attorney Travis Elliott spoke at the meeting about rules and guidelines for spending it. Stratman said his connection was poor and he had trouble understanding it all. He knows the county should do the standard allowance to make the money easier to spend on what they want and also to document the expenditures. Treasurer Rhonda Slone said MRPC will help with the documentation. Stratman said they will need to do a regular procurement procedure. 

He found out the county’s ARPA money can’t be used to build a jail or a stadium. It can’t be used for a rainy day fund, a pension fund, or to pay down debt. But the county can use the ARPA money to build a bridge or an administration building. It also can be used for some grant matches, but there are strict requirements with the matches. They are supposed to send more guidance.

Banderet said regarding the ARPA money, some counties are doing buildings and some are using the money for roads and bridges. Stratman said any work they do on roads above what the county normally does is not included in the budget. County Clerk Rhonda Rodgers said they can amend the budget to reflect it.

Banderet talked about the process of building a bridge. First there is an engineering, which is put out for bid. He said engineers do the most economic design to keep the costs down on a bridge and still have a good bridge. Engineering fees are about 10 to 15 percent of the project’s construction costs. Right now, MoDOT has concerns there are not enough contractors to do all the work. Contractors are having trouble finding qualified help. 

For the sites Maries County is interested in getting a BEAP report, Banderet that day said he will go look at the two bridge sites, measure and inspect the bridges and get cost estimates to use in the report so the county can go after grants. He told the commissioners he thinks grants are coming for bridges. MoDOT pays for the BEAP so there will be no cost to the county for the report.

Full House

Stratman reported on the Rock Island Trail meeting he attended at Belle. There were representatives there from Missouri State Parks (MSP). He found out if a property owner has land that abuts the walking trail and the owners needs fencing, MSP will pay for the materials. Five-strand wire is the standard. 

He spoke of what they said about the railroad bridges on the proposed walking trail. The bridges were designed to carry 100,000 tons on the freight line. The bridges need work with adding concrete decks and high fences. The bridges will be able to hold a dump truck. 

It’s similar to the Katy Trail. There will be signs every 200 feet, so if a person gets hurt or has a health episode, they can call for help and an ambulance can locate it and drive to it. 

There are tunnels along the line and in this area three are known to Stratman. The tunnels will be lighted, maybe using sensors. There is a tunnel in Freeburg, and one in Koeltztown, which is the longest one and also it is not lined with rock potentially falling down. There is another tunnel further west. 

The walking trial is 124 miles long and will need to be developed. The section of the line between the Osage River and the Gasconade River is one-third of the line/trail. Some communities also the line/trail already are getting started with development in preparation and Belle is among them. They are applying for grants and they are attempting to develop the line which eventually will all be tied together. Stratman said there is a bill in Jefferson City with using the ARPA money, trying to secure $69.5 million for the trail. Stratman said there was a full house at Belle for the meeting.

He also said on the trip from Vienna to Belle he counted 81 deer.

Money coming

Treasurer Slone said Road One is waiting on $118,827.69 from the state for the BRO program, which is funding almost all of the construction work on the bridge replacement project on MCR 609. Fagre said the work nears completion. A new electric fence was put up for the landowner and a culvert was put in. The contractor is almost finished. Where the road meets the bridge at both ends needs to be finished.

Cash match

An email was received from MRPC about the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency (SEMA) writing a grant for funding to update the county’s Hazard Mitigation Plan. It expires Sept. 5, 2024. The county needs to commit to paying the 25 percent match, which is $8,000 in total. MRPC recommends the county pay $5,000 of it in cash and $3,000 in in-kind match. A confirmation of this is needed by April 7, 2022. The email said the cash will not need to be paid until 2023 so the county will be able to budget for it. Most of the planning activities will be in 2023 and 2024. The first draft of the plan probably will be submitted to SEMA by the spring of 2024. The commissioners agreed to the plan and the match. 

Land and assessment books

Collector Jayne Williams and Historical Society of Maries County (HSMC) President Lisa Jones came to the commission meeting. The HSMC has 160 large, bound books of land and assessment tax records from 1974 to 2015 it has been storing and no longer has room for them. She asked the county to take them back and be responsible for disposing of them.

Williams said the information contained in the books can be found in three other places. She said in 2003 her office received a grant to archive them on microfilm and CD’s, which are in her office. The books were turned over to the HSMC in April 2004. 

Jones said the society has been keeping these books since 2004 and none of them has ever been used. There are 60 of them in the Research Room and 100 in the storage area of the Maries County Building, one of the HSMC’s museums. Jones said they are out of room and can’t keep all of these books, but will continue to keep the books from 1859 to 1973. 

Stratman said he doesn’t see a problem with getting rid of the books, unless there is a rule about keeping them. Williams said the microfilm covers the county on the retention rule. She added the archive people suggested they be put in a dumpster. Fagre wondered if anyone would want them. There is a metal three-ring binder on them. 

Jones told the commissioners the HSMC needs help getting rid of them. It’s a pick-up load of books. Drewel suggested a special pickup with a dumpster and be done with it.

Jones reported receiving a $1,000 grant from the MFA Oil Foundation, and another $1,000 grant from Three Rivers Co-op. The money will be used for archival supplies and equipment for the Research Room and the museums. 

A lot of people

The commissioners looked over financial statements and commented on the amount of delinquent taxes as of Dec. 31, 2021 for the road districts and general revenue. For the roads it is $23,746.54 and for general revenue it is $41,036.46. In comparison, in 2020 the delinquent taxes at the end of the year were $22,783.65 for roads and $39,874.78 for general revenue.

Drewel said those numbers tell him there are a lot of people not paying their taxes. Fagre said people who own land usually pay their taxes, and maybe the people not paying are ones who don’t own a lot. Drewel said if that is the case, the number of people not paying their taxes would be even higher.

It was noted some people are perpetually behind on their taxes and pay the taxes from three years ago to keep them out of trouble with having the property sold on the courthouse steps. 

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