NORTH TO ALASKA: Commissioners OK long-distance purchase

2017-06-16 | The News Courier

June 15--A piece of equipment purchased Wednesday by the Limestone County Commission could make county bridges safer for years to come.

There's a catch, however -- it's in Fairbanks, Alaska. It also weighs about 10,000 pounds.

The commission voted at its regular work session to spend $6,100 to buy a hydra under-bridge platform. Assistant Engineer Marc Massey told commissioners it's being sold at a scrap price, but only has one deficiency -- it needs new batteries to power the hydraulic lift.

"The reason it's that cheap is because it's in Alaska," he said. "We would be required to get it here."

Massey estimated the cost to move the piece of equipment, which is classified as a crane, is $5,000 to $6,000. He said a used model is for sale in South Carolina for $95,000.

The lift would enable engineers to get a closer look at the underside of county bridges and get ahead of any issues before they worsen. The commissioners present at the work session thought buying the platform seemed like a good deal, considering they pay the Alabama Department of Transportation $8,600 to use its platform every two years.

"They bring their equipment and operator out under their timeframe, which is about one week, and it leaves no time for (bridge) maintenance," Massey said.

He explained there is a bridge in District 4 that would benefit from the platform because it has bearings that need to be inspected.

Massey said he and engineer Bryant Moss are looking at prices to transport the platform from Alaska to Alabama. He explained because there are so many imports into Alaska, it may be cheaper to export an item through a trucking company.

"They'll hold it for a few weeks," Massey said.

Once the platform is in Limestone County, Massey said there is a local company that can inspect it on an annual basis for $350. Commissioner Steve Turner said it's possible the county may be able to rent it out to other counties or temporarily swap equipment with another county that may need the platform.

"No other (local) counties have one. ... We feel like it's a good unit," Massey said. "It will be advantageous to the county's bridge inspection program."

The commissioners unanimously approved the purchase. District 4 Commissioner Ben Harrison was absent Wednesday.

The commission's next regularly scheduled meeting is 10 a.m. Monday at the Clinton Street annex.