Bonne Femme Bridge

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BOONE COUNTY - In the wake of a fatal car crash, KOMU 8 News set out to examine safety measures at the Bonne Femme Creek Bridge on Highway 63.

The guardrails on each side the bridge are hundreds of feet different in length.

On the southbound side, they are only about 150 feet long, while the guardrails northbound are around 350 feet long.

A 15-year-old girl drove off the right side of Hwy. 63 at the bridge July 30. The car hit an embankment, flipped into the air, and landed on its roof at the bottom of the creek.

The girl's mother, Jesseca Sage, was in the passenger seat and was pronounced dead at the scene. The girl was taken to the hospital with moderate injuries

MoDOT guardrail specialist Ron Effland said guardrails are to keep people from hitting something more dangerous than hitting the guardrail.

"Quite often they are at bridge ends to soften that hard concrete rail usually on bridges, especially on the interstate. To transition that stiffness into something softer than that concrete," Effland said.

A new acceleration lane was added southbound June 18 as part of a bridge improvement project. The acceleration lane has no rumble lines, which are meant to warn drivers if they are veering off the road. 

The northbound lanes do have rumble lines leading up to the bridge. 

Effland said the different lengths of guardrails is usually determined by the space available.

"That’s generally why you would see a difference because the conditions off the roadway would be different and the bigger space would need longer run of guardrail to protect," Effland said.

The middle corridor has steel barriers connected to the guardrails, while the outer lane guardrail southbound does not. 

KOMU 8 News reached out to MoDOT hoping to talk to the improvement project manager, but he was out of the office, as were the district engineer and assistant district engineer.