The Harco Road bridge over the Middle Fork was to be closed for replacement starting Monday and remain closed for a predicted 120 days, but that start date has been pushed back a week to June 10, according to Saline County Highway Engineer Jeff Jones.
He said the construction company E.T. Simonds of Carbondale has deemed the water at the Middle Fork to too high with recent rain and more predicted rain to begin work June 3.
The bridge and three sections of road were affected by subsidence from American Coal’s longwall mining, causing the bridge to be 5 feet lower than it needs to be, Jones said.
“There are three sections of road subsided by longwalling also and they will be brought back to their original height,” Jones said.
American Coal pays for the cost of the new bridge. The county approved E.T. Simonds bid of nearly $1.5 million.
There will be no designated detours. Jones said no alternate rural roads are suitable for heavy truck traffic and those needing to reach locations along the road will have to use either state Route 34 at the north or state Route 13 at the south, depending on which side of the bridge they are trying to reach.
The current 120-day contract - with the start date of June 3 - means E.T. Simonds will have to have the job done by Oct. 1. Jones said the contract is unique in that it specifies the number of calendar days by which the work will have to be done rather than a number of working days. The construction company faces substantial penalties if the work continues after Oct. 1, Jones said.