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MEMORIES IN FOCUS: Is lover's lane due for some love? years ago

EBH Engineering photos

This 1887 bridge over Clear Creek along what’s known as lover’s lane east of Centre school might be restored.

Staff writer

A crumbling historic bridge on what is known as a lovers lane east of Centre school could be repaired if the state provides a grant to pay for most of the work.

The 1887 single-arch limestone bridge on a one-lane dirt road with two tire tracks leading to it has a deteriorated keystone on its southwest side reading Marion 1887 T.H. Osborne, E.N. Eby, and J.A. Stahl. It is on Wagon Wheel Rd., east of US-77 and north of 310th Rd.

Stahl, Eby, and Osborne were county commissioners in 1887.

The county appears to have paid $1,000, the equivalent of $27,134 today, to build the bridge, according to archives of the Marion Record.

The road is so narrow that it does not appear on many modern maps, including Google maps.

“The arch itself is in fantastic condition,” county engineer Brice Goebel said.

Although two wing walls also are in good condition, the two other wing walls need to be deconstructed and rebuilt. Existing limestone blocks are in good enough condition to be used to rebuild the bridge.

Clear Creek below the bridge has changed its angle in the 133 years since the bridge was built, causing scour to both sides of the bottom of the arch.

A new deck is needed to prevent cars driving over the bridge from making direct contact with limestone.

The repair is estimated at $183,800 and the cost of design engineering at $40,000.

The price of protecting the creek bank leading to the bridge would amount to $45,000 of the total.

If Kansas Department of Transportation gives the county a grant of $169,096 under a program for special, unique projects, the county’s out-of-pocket cost would be $82,274, including design engineering.

County commissioners Friday had a hard time swallowing the price.

Commissioner Kent Becker said the bridge was historic and the county ought to hang onto it but questioned whether the bridge got enough use to make the investment worthwhile.

Goebel said the county might be able to get support from local people interested in preserving historical structures.

Commissioners voted unanimously Friday to approve submitting a grant application.

“Those bridges are unique and the fact is, there are not very many of them,” Goebel said Monday. “It’s always on my radar, looking for things like that.”

Goebel said the bridge was in better shape than many bridges its age that have not been restored.

“Typically, you lose the substructure first,” Goebel said. “This one is losing the wing walls, but if we fix it up and put a new deck on it, it will be in good shape.”

Last modified Aug. 5, 2020

 

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