Bridge on Highway 72 to be closed at least three days this week

Tuesday, March 25, 2003

A main commuter artery leading into Jackson and Cape Girardeau will be closed for at least three days this week as workers repair a bridge that was damaged when a large vehicle apparently struck the structure about two weeks ago.

Motorists, mail carriers and bus drivers will have to drive at least 10 minutes out of their way around the construction site Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

"It's going to be an inconvenience for about everybody around here," said Wendy Parish, a Patton resident who was filling her vehicle with gas in Millersville.

The repair is being done on the truss of a bridge that crosses Byrd Creek about three miles west of Jackson and about a mile past the splitting of highways 34 and 72.

Currently, the bridge is down to one lane and temporary stoplights have been set up to direct traffic flow. Large signs also warn motorists when the road will be closed.

Cecile Wilkinson, who lives just west of the bridge, said she went to town Monday to pick up supplies in hopes that she won't have to take the 10-minute detour.

"I'm sure a lot of other people are doing that too," she said. "If I had to go for something, I'd do it, but I tried to fix it today so I wouldn't have to go around."

Highway 72 feeds northern Bollinger County and the residents in Cape Girardeau County in the Millersville area. Many in the area commute to Cape Girardeau to work.

"It's really going to be an inconvenience to me on Thursday," said Kristi Hays of Sedgewickville. "I go to school at SEMO, and I'll have to go all the way to Oak Ridge."

Missouri Department of Transportation area engineer Stan Johnson said MoDOT is recommending motorists take Route B to Route E at Oak Ridge and then take Interstate 55 south to Cape Girardeau.

Post office and Jackson school officials say they'll take county roads that connect highways 72 and 34 and bypass the bridge that is being repaired.

One such route is County Road 349, which is paved.

Jeff Bollinger, director of operations at the Jackson school district, said children and parents who live west of the bridge should expect buses to arrive about 15 minutes earlier in the morning and arrive about 15 minutes later than normal after school.

Bollinger said four regular school buses cross that bridge daily, not counting special-needs pickups.

"That's going to affect us pretty good," he said. "We'll do the best we know how."

Mike Heuschober, postmaster at Jackson, said patrons should expect their mail to be delivered about a half-hour or 45 minutes later than normal.

Mark Kneer, circulation director with the Southeast Missourian, said residents can probably expect their papers to be delivered later.

"Our carriers will do our best to use the back roads and make sure the papers get delivered," Kneer said.

'They know they did it'

Johnson, the MoDOT engineer, said the repairs are necessary because of a hit-and-run incident that occurred about two weeks ago.

"Something hit the bridge and damaged the truss members," he said. "We have to replace those members and when we do that, we have to take the traffic completely off the bridge."

Johnson said the damage must have been caused by some heavy equipment.

"Where the damage was done, it was obviously not a car that did it," he said. "And whoever did it, they hit it hard enough that they know they did it."

bmiller@semissourian.com

243-6635

Possible alternate routes

North on Route B in Cape Girardeau County, east on Route E to Interstate 55 South

or

South on County Road 349 to Highway 34 and west to Jackson.

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