Multiple mid-Missouri bridges under construction
LAKE OF THE OZARKS – Over 15 bridges in Missouri will be under construction starting Monday with more starting later in the week. Two projects are in mid-Missouri, one in Miller County and one in Howard County.
A stretch of road along US 54 West in Miller County will be under construction until mid-November. Julie Humphrey, a cashier at a Phillips 66 right off the highway, is worried about the traffic. She said it is already backed up most weekends.
“It’s always been busy there. You really have to be careful,” Humphrey said. “It gets really congested, I’m worried because there are already so many wrecks. I’m already in traffic leaving work.”
Dennis Heckman, a bridge engineer for MoDOT, said this is the best time of year to do construction.
“That particular stretch is very heavily trafficked in the summer, so usually the bridge work on route 54 is after Labor Day and still try and get it done by winter,” Heckman said.
He said if they don’t repair this bridge now, it would cost more in the long run.
“It is a project to repair bridges, rehabilitate them, keep them in fair, good quality,” Heckman said. “We don’t want them to fall into the poor category where we would have to spend a lot more money to replace the bridges.”
When bridges are too hard to maintain and are unsafe for the public, Heckman said they would close it.
One example of a bridge that is at the end of its life is in Howard County. A 71-year-old bridge on Route V over Doxie’s Creek will be replaced Monday. It is one of seven bridges in Howard County that are in poor condition and the only one getting fixed as part of this project.
Construction on Route V over Doxies Creek will close down the road until early November. The total cost for the bridge is approximately $600,000.
MoDOT’s website said it will post directions for alternate routes to take during the construction.
Bridges built prior to 1980 have a life expectancy of 50 years meaning they get harder to maintain, and will have to be replaced.
Heckman said MoDOT only has enough funding to repair or replace 100 ‘poor’ bridges a year. He said the problem is 120 bridges get added to the list every year. There are over 900 bridges in the state system that are ‘poor.’
“We consider a lot when we have such limited funds,” Heckman said. “We look at detour routes, where do the school buses go, ambulance, all kinds of things when you’re trying to decide which of the few bridges you can afford to work on.”