More than 200 Missouri bridges under repair this year, including up to 30 in Southeast Missouri

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Road closed. Detour.

Get used to it, Missouri drivers, because there will be a lot of bridges closed this year.

The Missouri Department of Transportation said more than 200 bridges are scheduled for work this year. In almost all cases, the bridges will be closed during construction, meaning motorists will have to find an alternative route to get over whatever passes underneath those bridges.

Closing and rebuilding bridges in their same locations -- instead of building a new bridge nearby -- reduces the need for the state to buy additional right of way and to pave new approaches to the bridges. That allows the projects to be completed more quickly and at a lower cost, the transportation department said.

Most of the bridges being constructed in 2010 are part of a $487 million contract awarded last year to KTU Constructors to design and replace 554 bridges over a four-year period. Many of this year's bridge replacements will occur in northwest and west-central Missouri, the Kansas City area and the Bootheel.

In Southeast Missouri's district, 68 bridges are on the list of spans to be replaced by the time the state's contract with KTU Constructors expires in 2013. Many of the bridges are old, one-lane bridges, said project manager Andy Meyer.

Up to 30 of those bridges will be replaced this year, with the remainder to be completed in later years. Another 18 bridges on MoDOT's list in District 10 have either been finished or are currently under construction.

Most bridge replacements in the Southeast District will require the road to be closed for up to six weeks while work is done, Meyer said. MoDOT is working with each county, holding public meetings to explain the plans and meeting with local officials to time the work, Meyer said.

"A six-week closure is obviously a tremendous inconvenience," Meyer said. "But if you can put up with us for six weeks, you will get a new bridge because a lot of these bridges are not in the best of shape."

Roads on major divided highways such as Interstate 55 or U.S. 60 will be done in stages and no road closure will be required, he said.

For example, the bridge over Buckeye Creek on U.S. 61 north of Route CC is a one-lane bridge with yield signs at each end, Meyer noted. When completed, the bridge will have two lanes with lower rails to allow farmers to cross without putting equipment on a trailer or buggy, Meyer said.

Work on the Buckeye Creek bridge will begin April 5, Meyer said.

One of the more difficult projects to plan will be replacing three bridges on Highway 34 near Burfordville, Meyer said. All three bridges are within 1 1/2 miles of each other and will be replaced in sequence, requiring a road closure of up to 100 days.

Because traffic will be redirected to Route OO and Route Z, the department wants to avoid a winter closure, Meyer said. The bridges will likely be replaced in 2011, he said.

Many bridges have restricted loads, narrow driving lanes and high rails that impede farmers moving from one field to another, Meyer said. "All that goes away when they are done," he said.

The site shows a picture of each bridge and a map of where the projects are.

Staff writer Rudi Keller contributed to this report.

Area bridge projects

The following bridges will undergo construction this year as part of the Missouri Department of Transportation's Safe and Sound Bridge Improvement Program. The location and expected start period for each bridge is listed:

Bollinger County

Route V at Drainage Ditch No. 101, fall

Cape Girardeau County

U.S. 61 at Buckeye Creek, April 5

Route A at Beam Creek, summer

Route U at Allen Creek, fall

Scott County

Route W at Little River Drainage District Ditch No. 1, fall

Route W at Little River Drainage District Ditch No. 291, fall

Route W at District 3 Main Ditch, fall

Route ZZ at Drainage Ditch No. 2, summer

Route P at Whitewater River, summer

Perry County

Highway 51 Bois Brule Creek, under construction

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