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Mon, Nov. 18

Board addresses flood damage

KINGMAN – The Mohave County Board of Supervisors will be moving forward with the reconstruction of the Beaver Dam Bridge, which was seriously damaged during a flood in January 2005.

At their meeting Tuesday, the Board will be discussing the approval of the next phase of the project: the design of the bridge.

Early 2005 saw an extreme flood come through the Beaver Dam Wash, causing extensive damage to Mohave County Highway 91, the bridge and several of the surrounding areas. According to a county news release, members of the county road maintenance crews and local contractors worked tirelessly to save the bridge, but, with flood waters rising at about four feet an hour, it was soon recognized as an impossible feat.

“It was heartbreaking (during the flood) when we lost that bridge,” Nick Hont, Mohave County Public Works Deputy Director, said. “We were on the scene trying to save the bridge and I just felt like we failed.”

Immediate repairs were begun, Hont said, with the county hiring local contractors and spending more than $1 million on emergency repairs to reestablish the bridge and highway.

However, these repairs were only temporary. District 1 Supervisor Pete Byers called an emergency meeting for the county including the Arizona Department of Transportation, Arizona Department of Emergency Management (which also represented the Federal Emergency Management Agency), the Federal Highway Administration, the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Corps of Engineers, and the Bureau of Land Management.

According to the county’s news release, the county pursued the FHWA program, “to reestablish Highway 91, which is considered critical for the federal highway system, with an approximate reimbursement of 94 percent of all costs.”

Hont said that a sound engineering analysis, involving detailed channel hydrology, hydraulics and geotechnical and structural engineering was required to ultimately determine that the old bridge was irreparably damaged.

The URS Corporation was hired, according to county officials, to do the engineering evaluations. The study determined that construction costs would be approximately $10 million dollars with about $1 million needed for the engineering design. It was determined by FHWA and ADOT that a new bridge would be required.

The next phase of the project is to design the bridge. The same company, URS, has been chosen to complete the design, according to the county news release. “URS has supplied us with a good scope of work,” Hont said.

“There are only a few companies with the abilities for this project and URS was the quality-based selection,” added Public Works Director Mike Hendrix. “State law doesn’t allow agencies to select on price, such as low bidder, for this kind of project. It has to go through a ‘quality-based’ system. We went through the rigorous selection process exactly as state law allows. The selection committee found URS, which is a big international firm, to be top quality and have all the disciplines needed for the project.”

Hont estimated that the design would take about nine months to complete and construction could take approximately 18 months.

“This project is taking time because it is being prepared properly,” Hont said, “not just because we are making sure every governmental agency is assured of legal compliance, but because we want a safe, quality-built bridge and infrastructure. This bridge is being designed to survive a 500-year flood event.”

Hont said that the project would still be open to public input. If the Board approves this next step, it will have to get the environmental and construction design together for public meetings.

“Since the day we were standing on that bridge and we felt the rumbling and we moved back in time to see a section collapse, we have been working toward this moment which would lead to a new 40-ton capacity bridge on Old Highway 91,” Byers said. “This is going to be a great improvement to that area and the county will be reimbursed for 94 percent of our costs. It is taking time, but we are doing it right – and it will all be worth it to the residents of that area and to Mohave County as a whole when the project is finished.”

The Mohave County Board of Supervisors will meet at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday in the Mohave County Administration Building.

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