Sedalia Closes Bridge After Inspection Finds Structural Damage

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SEDALIA - Officials said Wednesday they had to close a bridge over railroad tracks because an inspection found substantial structural weaknesses.

Public Works Director Bill Beck said the city was planning on repairing the approaches to the Washington Avenue bridge but thought the bridge itself was still safe. An inspection two weeks ago told a different story: several major support beams were weakened by rust. Beck said the city closed the bridge Tuesday and will keep it closed until it decides whether to repair or replace the bridge. The bridge was built in 1911 and its deck was last repaired in the 1980s.

Beck said Washington Avenue is the only street connecting the north and south sides of downtown Sedalia that doesn't have a railroad crossing. He said closing the bridge shouldn't create any traffic problems unless a long train comes through town. In case of a dire emergency, Beck said it's safe to drive a fire truck across the bridge at slow speed.

Sedalia residents said they didn't feel safe using the bridge but worried about fire department response times. Dorothy Emerson said her biggest concern was how long it would take to get a fire truck into the north side of town if a train blocked all the crossings while the bridge was being repaired or replaced.

Beck said the city should get a recommendation as to whether to repair or replace the bridge in the next two to four weeks. Repairing the bridge would cost about $1 million, while replacing it could be closer to $3 or 4 million.