Missouri River Bridge needs repair or replacement; could cause major backups

4 weeks 23 hours 26 minutes ago Monday, May 20 2019 May 20, 2019 Monday, May 20, 2019 3:07:00 PM CDT May 20, 2019 in Continuous News
By: Emma Claybrook, KOMU 8 Reporter and Jim Riek, KOMU 8 Anchor

ROCHEPORT - The Missouri River Bridge at Rocheport is almost 60 years old and it is in desperate need of repairs. The bridge could even be replaced.

Work on the bridge is expected to start in 2020, but the Missouri Department of Transportation has not announced any official plans yet. 

“Really a decision needs to be made. Are we building a new bridge or repairing?” said Gale Blomenkamp, assistant chief at Boone County Fire Protection District. 

Blomenkamp said there could be major delays on I-70 when the repairs start. 

“Just on that last repair we had a backup of 10 miles to the west of the bridge,” he said. “That puts us at Stadium and Providence. That’s a significant backup on I-70.” 

Blomenkamp is talking about the emergency repairs done on the bridge at the beginning of May. Those repairs shut down the bridge for three days. 

That shutdown led to bumper-to-bumper traffic on old Highway 40, a two lane road that runs through Boonville. 

“Boonville had a traffic jam,” Erin Jordan, an employee at the A&W Restaurant said. “If they re-route traffic, it comes right this way.”

The A&W is right off of Highway 40, also known as Ashley Road. 

“It’s good for business, but it’s a lot of traffic,” said Isabella Heckman, another employee at the restaurant.

Blomenkamp said re-routing the traffic to Highway 40 could be a good solution, but it also could cause some problems.

“If we divert everything to Highway 40 that's not going to solve the problem,” he said. “Now we're going to be dealing with the same thing over there and it will quickly backup.”

Dozens of agencies will work together to create the best plan for the to help shorten delays and prevent crashes. 

“For us to do a plan without everyone else would be irresponsible,” said Blomenkamp. “We need to make sure we're on the same plan, the same sheet of music so to speak.”

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