Questions abound about bridge that 'doesn't exist'
A bridge that officially doesn’t even exist might have to be inspected at county cost so water flow problems can be fixed.
The bridge, inside Florence city limits but outside the main body of the city, was once part of US-50 when it passed through.
The highway was later rerouted, bypassing Florence, and the Kansas Department of Transportation abandoned the bridge. That’s when it became property of the city.
During the intervening years, debris, logs, and silt have built up beneath the bridge, causing water to flow over it.
County engineer Brice Goebel said the Federal Emergency Management Administration wants to give the city of Florence some money to work on its levee, but demands the bridge be repaired first.
The city notified the county that under state law, a city with a population of 5,000 or less doesn’t maintain or inspect bridges, thus the responsibility falls to the county.
“It’s a bridge that nobody would want,” Goebel said.
When Goebel checked for inspection records, he found the bridge is not even listed on the National Bridge Inventory records.
That means the bridge does not officially exist, he said.
“We’ve known it’s there for a while, it’s just that we knew it’s the city’s bridge,” Goebel said.
The bridge spans 5th St. just east of Cottonwood St., before 5th St. curves north to become Park Ave. Park Ave. connects to US-50.
Only one residence is along Park Ave. If the bridge were closed, the residents would have to take Park Ave. to US-50 to drive into Florence.
Goebel said the county is waiting for a legal opinion from county counsel Brad Jantz before deciding whether to have the bridge inspected.
Last modified Oct. 15, 2020