90-year-old bridges may be updated
COLUMBIA - The Missouri Department of Transportation held a public meeting to present information on a project to replace two bridges.
The project would replace the bridges over the Gans Creek and Bonne Femme Bridges. Both bridges are located on the outer road of U.S. Route 63 south of Columbia.
"The two bridges were built in 1925 so they're basically 90 years old. They've really done a great job, but they've outlived their usefulness and they're showing their age. These two bridges needed work for some time," project manager of MoDOT Mike Dusenberg said.
MoDOT is partnering with Boone County to complete the project. Boone County will fund the Gans Creek Bridge while MoDOT will fund the Bonne Femme Bridge. The replacement of both bridges is expected to cost $1.2 million.
"We have the Megellan pipeline company which is also located between these two bridges, so there's a significant amount of 18 wheeler, semi truck traffic that runs up and down these bridges," Dusenberg said.
The constant traffic from truck drivers, area residents and out of town visitors creates hazardous situations on both bridges. The Gans Bridge carries about 1,600 commuters a day while the Bonne Femme Bridge carries about 1,000.
"They're both narrow bridges, they're both only about 20 feet wide. Basically at this point the way these bridges are now, an 18 wheeler can't meet a vehicle on the same bridge. It's not wide enough for them," Dusenberg said.
The new bridges will be 28 feet wide allowing enough room for two vehicles. The plan is to also replace the current crumbling guard rail. Dusenberg said he thinks the addition will be a nice, safe improvement for the area.
"We've heard from folks in the area, and from the county and the city of Columbia for a number of years about the condition of the bridges and something needs to be done. I would anticipate most people would be very happy to see the bridges replaced. "
The project is scheduled to go to bid January 2016. The plan is to begin work on the first bridge late winter/early spring, completing the entire project by fall 2016.
"We can't close both bridges, or we basically cut people off from access at that point. By doing it this way we're able to provide a smooth, safe detour route for folks," Dusenberg said.
One business owner hopes the project begins work on the Gans Bridge first to allow better access to his business in the spring.
"My main concern is to find out the timing of those bridges because our business is mainly April to May. From a greenhouse business standpoint, that's our biggest time," owner of Strawberry Hill Farms Steven Sapp said.
Nonetheless, Sapp said the project is needed.
"I always pay attention when I'm crossing those, especially even in a pickup truck, trying to make sure that I'm not meeting anything bigger than me," Sapp said.