Builder says bridge deadline may be missed

Wednesday, October 15, 2003

The project manager for the firm handling the construction of the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge cautioned area business leaders "about getting too overly excited" about the Dec. 13 deadline for the $100 million bridge's completion.

"December 13 -- we're going to get as close to that as possible," said Larry Owens of Traylor Brothers Inc., who spoke at a Cape Girardeau Chamber of Commerce-sponsored dinner to thank those involved in the bridge project.

"But we've got electrical work, we've got to put lids on the towers ... we've got tons of work to do," he said. "December 13 is going to be pretty tough with all that."

But the project won't be delayed much beyond that, Owens told the group who attended the dinner at Port Cape Girardeau, which is within sight of the new state-of-the art bridge.

"It's not going to be May," he said. "It could be the end of December, early January. We're going to do our best to get it done by the due date."

The primary purpose of the dinner was to thank those who have been involved in getting the bridge finished, from the Traylor Brothers workers, to independent laborers, legislators and the Missouri Department of Transportation, said MoDOT district engineer Scott Meyer.

"This is the chance for us to come together and make something monumental -- and the bridge is certainly monumental," Meyer said. "For engineers who have worked on it, it's a once-in-a-lifetime thing."

Meyer acknowledged that the bridge has already seen its share of delays.

"This is a project that has tested our integrity," he said. "It's taken a long time to build. It's cost us some years on the front end, but we have built ourselves a bridge that will last 100 years."

Meyer also acknowledged those who kept the current 75-year-old Mississippi River bridge open while the new one was being built.

"At times, it was rocky to keep that bridge open," Meyer said. "But we recognized how important it was. You reminded us of that."

Jefferson City and local MoDOT crews have inspected the old bridge several times, beams have been replaced and other work has been done, Meyer said.

When work on the Diversion Channel bridge project was broached, Meyer said that as far as he knew, it was on target to be finished by the end of the year.

335-6611, extension 137

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