A contract for the inspection of Franklin County-maintained bridges has been approved by the county’s board of commissioners.

The contract with CFS Engineers, of Topeka, was unanimously approved last week by the board at a cost of $16,252 — $68 per bridge. The biennial inspections are a means of ensuring safety for people who travel any of Franklin County’s 239 bridges, Jim Haag, county public works director, said.

Inspectors are expected to check the bridges for fracture critical areas, review and update the load-bearing capacities of each bridge and other items that may affect the safety of the public. Items that are identified as critical will be reported to the county on the day of the inspection, the contract stated.

The inspections are mandated by Federal Highway Administration guidelines, Haag said, and the Kansas Department of Transportation delegates such inspections to the counties and cities in the state. In an attempt to avoid “substandard inspections,” Haag said, the county is not allowed by federal law to let bridge inspection contracts out for bid.

“The [Kansas] Department of Transportation has become much stricter on how local entities inspect their bridges because ultimately it reflects back on KDOT and from KDOT back on the Federal Highway Administration,” Haag said, adding KDOT also will quality inspect certain bridges after the initial inspection if necessary.

The $68 cost per bridge is comparable with past contracts between CFS and the county, Haag said. The inspections are supposed to be complete by fall, the contract states, but no specific deadline was given.

The bridges are expected to remain open to traffic during the inspections, Haag said, but motorists should be mindful of the inspectors walking on and around the structures, as well as of their vehicles parked near the bridges.

Bridges that have been vacated by the county, such as the bridge on Utah Road between Marshall Road and Kingman Terrace, will not be inspected by the county, Haag said. Landowners with vacated bridges on their property are not required to have those bridges inspected, Haag added.