The Weekly Newspaper serving the citizens of Morenci, Mich., Fayette, Ohio, and surrounding areas.

  • Front.cheers
    MACEE BEERS joins other Fayette Elementary School students for the annual Mini-Cheer performance during the half-time break at the basketball game.
  • Family.3.wide
    CHILDREN at Stair District Library’s Family Story Time toss scarves into the air during an activity. The evening program provided a mix of stories, songs, dancing, crafts and snacks Monday evening. The program is offered at 5:30 p.m. every Monday for five more weeks. The program is designed for three to five year olds and their family.
  • Front.newpaper.2
    THE INTERVIEW—Evelyn Joughin (right) records the interaction with an iPad while Jack Varga, next to her, asks questions of Morenci Elementary School principal Gail Frey. Morenci senior Sam Cool (standing) listens. Cool serves as the editor for the newspaper written by members of Mrs. Barrett’s second grade class.
  • Front.code.2
    WRITING CODE—Brock Christle (left), a Morenci fifth grade student, takes a look at the progress being made by fourth grader Anthony Lewis. Libby Rorick, a sixth grade student, is next in a line of girls trying out the coding tutorials. This year marked Morenci’s second year of participation in the Hour of Code project.
  • Front.skelton.vigil
    MORENCI’S three Skelton brothers were remembered with both tears and laughter last week during a candlelight vigil at Wakefield Park. Several people came out of the crowd to give their recollection of the boys who have now been missing for five years.
  • Front.gym.new
    REMIE RYAN (left) tries to dodge the foam wand held by Hayden Bays during physical education class at Morenci Elementary School. In the background, Lauryn Dominique and Brooklyn Williams stay clear of the tag. Second grade students were working on cardiovascular health on the first day back from vacation. For the record, Safety Tag is a very difficult sport to photograph.
  • Front.lift
    MORENCI student Dalton McCowan puts everything into a dead lift attempt Saturday morning during the Wyseguy Push/Pull event. Lifters helped raise more than $1,600 for the family of the late Devin Wyse, a former Morenci power-lifter who graduated last year. Commemorative T-shirts are still available by contacting teacher Dan Hoffman.

Morenci's East Main Street bridge remains a concern 03.02.2011

Written by David Green.

main_street_bridge_eastBy DAVID GREEN

Morenci’s Main Street bridge on the east side of town remains a problem due to deterioration of the beams and washout around the abutments.

City council is expected to apply for federal bridge replacement funds again this year in hopes of preventing a future detour if the bridge were to be considered unsafe.

Prior to an inspection in 2008, the weight limit was posted at 61 tons, but limits have been reduced more than once since then. Currently, the allowable weight is posted at 15 tons for a one-unit vehicle, 17 tons for a two-unit vehicle and 27 tons for a three-unit vehicle.

The city uses the Brechting Bridge and Engineering firm for bridge inspections. Frank Brechting recently completed a Scour Critical Bridge Action Plan to meet a federal requirement. Scour refers to the washout of soil around bridge abutments from high water events.

“The plan designates a chain of command in case of a high water event,” Brechting explained.

A local official would be designated to monitor the bridge and make a report to the engineering firm. An evaluation of the situation would determine if a detour were needed.

“It’s fairly common that a bridge is scour critical,” Brechting said.

Many of the state’s older bridges that use a spread foundation rather than pilings are subject to washout.

Brechting said the 38-foot bridge was constructed in 1941 and since no construction plans are available, he has to assume that a spread foundation was used. The West Main Street bridge, built in 1949, is supported by pilings driven into the ground.

He estimates a replacement cost of  at least $550,000, including the road approaches. The federal bridge funds—which are funneled through the Michigan Department of Transportation—would cover 95 percent of the cost, leaving the city with a share of around $30,000, plus design and construction engineering costs.

Brechting said a new bridge would likely use different construction materials, such as pre-stressed concrete beams.

“Hopefully it’s going to qualify for bridge funds eventually,” Brechting said. “There’s a lot of need there.”

Applications are rated on factors that include the condition of the bridge and the amount of traffic carried.

City council has discussed in the past the problems that a detour would create, especially since funding for completion of the industrial park road was not received.

At the Feb. 14 meeting, Morenci mayor Keith Pennington asked city supervisor Barney Vanderpool and police chief Larry Weeks to discuss ways of limiting truck traffic on Coomer Street past the school.

The reduced weight limits could lead truck drivers to seek a route that avoids the bridge. Vanderpool said he expects the weight limits to be reduced further in the future.

Chief Weeks pointed out that his department has no means checking the weights of trucks. Pennington said restrictions would probably have to address axles or truck classes.

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