Contractor chosen to rebuild three I-70 bridges

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COLUMBIA - Emery Sapp and Sons has been chosen to design and rebuild three Interstate 70 bridges in Columbia.

The bridges are located at the exits at West Boulevard, Garth Avenue, and Missouri Route 763/Range Line Street.

The project is projected to cost $18 million, and construction is expected to start in late summer.

Sapp says the new bridges should be in place by fall of 2016.

Although the Missouri Department of Transportation says the bridges are said to currently safe to travel, they are rated in poor condition. The bridges were built in 1957 with the highway.

"These bridges were built in 1957 with the original interstate. They're of such a design that they really are difficult to rehabilitate. They're really not worth the finances to rehabilitate. These types of bridges just [prove they'll] have to be replaced," said Travis Koestner, the Assistant District Engineer for the MoDOT Central District.

The plan for the rebuilding proposes that I-70 will "remain open to two lanes of traffic in each direction at all times during construction except for a few temporary evening lane closures."

MoDOT used a design-build process to select the contractor for this job. Instead of considering competing bids and choosing the lowest-cost option, MoDOT sets the budgets and teams compete to see who can deliver the most value for the money.

According to MoDOT, Sapp's proposal "offered the most aggressive schedule to minimize traffic impacts."

The contractor's proposal also calls for the new bridges to be built next to the existing structures, and then slid into place. This plan is expected to "minimize closures on I-70 and affected city streets."

MoDOT kept future expansion in mind during the planning process.

"Our goals for the project was to build long-life, durable bridges that would be compatible with future expansion. That doesn't mean we're gonna build wider bridges right now. There's really no use in building a wider bridge now if we're not gonna use it, because it's just more that we have to maintain," Koestner said, "We want to go ahead and highlight to folks that that this is really still, really maintenance mode for MoDOT. These bridges are in need of replacement, and so this is basically a bridge replacement job, albeit a bridge replacement job for a roadway that carries 80,000 vehicles per day."

Emery Sapp and Sons is a local Columbia contractor.