The Taylor bridge, which has been closed since Nov. 8, is the most publicized and at $1 million is projected to be the most expensive of the bunch.

According to the Chinese animal zodiac, 2018 is the year of the dog. In Marion County, it could be designated the year of the bridge. No fewer than five spans will receive attention to some degree this year.

The Taylor bridge, which has been closed since Nov. 8, is the most publicized and at $1 million is projected to be the most expensive of the bunch.

“The Taylor bridge (work) will be partially done this year, but actually carried over and built mostly in 2019,” said Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode of the 201-foot structure on County Road 313 that crosses the North Fabius River. “MECO is working on the design.”

Already started is the bridge project on County Road 423 at Withers Mill.

“It’s well underway. The old bridge has been torn out,” said Bode.

The contractor for the Bear Creek bridge project is Chester Bross Construction. The county will be reimbursed for a portion of the new bridge’s $421,996 cost through the Bridge Replacement Off-System (BRO).

The program, which is administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation, covers 80 percent of a bridge’s cost. The remaining 20 percent can be paid for with what is termed a “soft match.” When a county pays for the entire cost for a replacement bridge, as Marion County has frequently done, that expense is considered soft-match money which can then be applied as the local match required by the BRO program, provided the soft-match bridge is built to state specs.

The other three bridges slated for replacement are much small spans. One is located on County Road 404.

“It’s a small and narrow bridge, which has concrete side walls,” said Bode. “The county (highway) crew will take care of that during the year.”

The other two bridges are located roughly 0.25 of a mile apart on County Road 153, near MO Route M. The larger of the two bridges, which goes over a branch that feeds into the South Fabius, is just 26 feet wide. It has a 10-ton weight limit.

“Back in the 1920s when the bridge was built they didn’t have the resources we have nowadays. We figured they just built a small bridge out of necessity. It worked at the time and it served its purpose as it’s almost a 100-year-old bridge. However, it is rated deficient,” said Bode. “We feel we can replace it with a large culvert. It will be done by our county crew because our funds are pretty well tied up by bigger bridge projects, but we still want to keep replacing any deficient ones we can.”

County forces will also be used to replace the nearby structure as well.

“While the county crew is up there there is a smaller bridge located just south of there that they will take out and put in a coated culvert also,” said Bode.

According to Bode, the superintendent of county roads, Mike Schaefer, and his staff have done a “study to make sure a large culvert can handle the water flow.”

Being able to use culverts at both County Road 153 sites will benefit taxpayers.

“The savings are going to be tremendous versus putting in another concrete bridge in,” said Bode. “Building a (concrete) bridge you would probably be looking at a $300,000 project at least versus putting a pipe (culvert) in.

Whenever we can figure out a way where we can save money, not only for Marion County but also federal dollars, we’re going to do that.”

The county’s roadway focus will not be exclusively on bridges.

“The county road fund has been successful in completing more black topping and gravel roadways of the county and plans are to continue that work for 2018,” said Valerie Dornberger, county clerk and budget officer, during her Jan. 22 budget address.

Another road program that was launched last year will be continued in 2018.

“We felt good about the dust control program we implemented last year. We’ll continue that same program this year,” said Bode, estimating there are approximately 430 miles of gravel road in the county.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com