The savings available from replacing bridges in the countryside with single-lane structures proved irresistible to Norfolk council last week.
Two days of deliberations in January showed the new council how difficult it can be to trim the operating budget.
Last Wednesday, council dusted off the file regarding the Norfolk Road 45 bridge south of Langton and opted for a single-lane structure. Not only will this cut an estimated $1 million from the repair job, it could serve as a template for repairing other ailing bridges.
Council thought it had settled the matter Jan. 9 when it voted to replace the Langton bridge with a pre-cast, two-lane concrete structure.
Some on council preferred replacing the bridge with a quaint, single-lane structure. However, others worried this might inconvenience farmers who need to move large tractors and equipment around.
In the end, council decided it could have both and save money in the bargain.
“It should be wide enough to get a normal-sized tractor through,” Windham Coun. Chris Van Paassen said Monday. “There just isn’t going to be room to get two tractors across at the same time.
“It does make the countryside look a little nicer. But it also has to be functional. Let’s see if we can do both.”
The single-lane option is less expensive because there is less preparatory work needed to situate the structure. If the county can make it work on Norfolk Road 45, Van Paassen said the savings can be multiplied at other distressed bridges throughout the county.
Ross Bateman of Langton, a past chair of Norfolk’s heritage committee and a promoter of single-lane bridges, is pleased with council’s decision.
“A discount of a million dollars or more was found, and that will still allow any normal vehicle to cross, farm and emergency included,” he said in an email.
“A bridge can now be chosen that will visually suit the landscape and retain the traditional attractions of this particular part of Big Creek valley.”