First responders plan for possible traffic delays during I-70 bridge repairs
COOPER COUNTY - With construction set to start on the I-70 bridge near Rocheport, first responders are getting ready to deal with potential traffic delays during calls.
To work around them, responders can drive on highway shoulders to get past traffic. This technique does have it challenges though.
"One thing is the weather we have now, if we have weather like this, we can get vehicles stuck in the mud," said Cooper County Assistant Fire Chief Russell Schmidt.
The Cooper County Fire Protection District will work with neighboring departments as needed.
Since the dividing line between Cooper and Boone counties is about in the middle of the river, the Boone County Fire Protection District will respond from the east side of the bridge.
"We stage on the Rocheport exit. Once traffic gets stopped on the bridge east bound, we can go respond against the traffic," said Assistant Fire Chief Gale Blomenkamp.
One key concern is transporting severely injured people out of Cooper County and across the bridge to University Hospital in Columbia.
If there is a substantial traffic jam, first responders will have to use an alternate route.
"There's a back road we would take down through the river bottoms, it's 240 just across the Boonville bridge," Schmidt said.
The route eventually connects back to I-70.
A different plan is in place in case a serious accident happens on the bridge itself.
Responders would temporarily shutdown a lane westbound and would land a helicopter to transfer any victims.
Schmidt said drivers can help first responders by paying close attention and pulling to the side when they see and hear sirens.