Cowley County commissioners took a step toward addressing the shut down East Chestnut Bridge in Arkansas City.

The commission on a 3-0 vote agreed to partner with the Natural Resources Conservation Service Office to apply for a federal grant to perform water management in the area of the bridge. The grant application would be made to the United States Department of Agriculture for work on the Walnut River bank.

County Administrator Lucas Goff said Ark City city manager Nick Hernandez had contacted the Army Corps of Engineers, which verified that an application must be submitted to do any repair work on the river bank.

The first time the river flooded in early May, the river took out about 20 feet of river bank. The county repaired the erosion with rip-rap at a cost of about $20,000. The second round of flooding took out about 200 feet of the river bank, which the county has not yet fixed.

Residents who live east of the bridge packed a county commission meeting earlier this month and expressed concerns about the closed bridge, which is one of three bridges in Ark City that span the Walnut River. The commission agreed at that meeting to contract with MKEC engineering firm to complete a life-cycle cost analysis for the bridge, which has been closed since early May.

The expense of fixing the river bank is separate from the cost of repairing the bridge itself, as well as the road leading up to it. The grant would go toward fixing the west river bank of the river just north of the bridge.

The Army Corps of Engineers must approve any work done to the river. The Walnut River’s natural movement is toward creating an oxbow lake just north of the bridge and taking out the west river bank entirely.

At an earlier meeting, Goff gave commissioners three choices for dealing with the  bridge: repairing it for about $600,000 to $800,000 and would last for about 30 to 50 years; tearing down the current bridge and erecting a new one for about $2 million; that one would be good for 60 to 100 years; or just taking the bridge down and not replacing it for about $100,000 to $150,000. None of those options includes repairing the river bank.

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