Pillager bridge to close in June for repair

By Tina Snell, Correspondent

The bridge over the Crow Wing River just south of Pillager on Highway 1 will close beginning about June 8. Work to be done includes the repair to the differential movement of both abutments. Contractors, yet to be chosen, will also work on the bridge deck which is showing deterioration and concrete spalling.

Spalling is flaking, pitted or broken concrete resulting from environmental factors that cause stress and can result in structural damage.

Morrison County Public Works deemed there is corrosion of the steel rebar in the deck and said the river bank under the bridge has lost its rock protection from ice and flow erosion.

The bridge is expected to be first excavated on each end. A cap will be formed and concrete will be poured which will tie the abutment into the deck. This will stop the differential movement.

The deck surface will be milled and the deteriorated areas will be removed. Layers of rebar which have separated will be replaced and the deck will then be resurfaced with new concrete.

Additional rock will be placed on the river bank to reduce erosion.

Morrison County Commissioner Kevin Maurer told the Motley City Council Tuesday, there will be a detour created during the work schedule which he said should last from 30 – 40 days. Morrison County expects to name a contractor in about two weeks and the work will begin after school lets out.

The official detour will be (on the south side of Pillager) on Morrison County 28 westward to Highway 10, south of Motley, then Highway 210 eastward to Pillager. On the north side of Pillager, vehicles will use Highway 210 west to Motley, Highway 10 east to County Road 28 east.

The contract calls for completion of the project in 40 working days with the detour to be in place for 30 working days. An incentive will be provided to complete the work in less time, but the penalty will be doubled if the work is not completed within the time stated.

Pedestrians will be allowed to use the bridge when work can be conducted safely.

For more information, residents can contact Morrison County Public Works Director Steve Backowski at (320) 632-0120.

Maurer also spoke to the City Council about the 15-month-old $10 wheelage tax implemented by Morrison County, authorized by the state. It was explained that Morrison County has 730 miles of roadways, 122 bridges and hundreds of culvert pipes. The cost of maintaining this system has grown faster than the rate of inflation. The wheelage tax is revenue that is dedicated to county highway purposes and most will stay in the county.

Between 2014 and 2020, Morrison County Public Works estimates $12.1 million will be needed for road and bridge repair. It also estimates there will be a $5 million shortfall over the same time period.

The wheelage tax is expected to generate about $348,000 per year. Of the $10, $9.915 stays in the county and $0.085 goes toward administration costs at the state level.

Maurer said he voted against the wheelage tax because the state made the decision to allow counties to add the $10 (possibly raised to $20 in 2018) without public feedback. He also voiced concerns the state will cut back on what it returns to the county in the future.