Pier to take shape in next few weeks, engineer says

Thursday, September 20, 2001

[ Browse a gallery of photos showing bridge construction at various stages ]

Southeast Missourian

A pier will start taking shape above the Mississippi River at Cape Girardeau within the next few weeks as work continues on the new Bill Emerson Memorial Bridge.

The new four-lane, cable-stay bridge is expected to be completed in 2003 at a cost of more than $100 million.

The contractor, Traylor Brothers Inc. of Evansville, Ind., has been hard at work on the main part of the project since last year when it was awarded a $53.7 million contract to complete two of the bridge's piers and to install support cables, the bridge deck, roadway and decorative lights.

80 to 90 workers

Eighty to 90 construction workers currently are working on the project, said Fitz O'Donnell, an engineer with Traylor Brothers.

Much of the construction so far has been inside a coffer dam in the middle of the river as workers build the steel and concrete foundation and slowly sink it to the bottom of the river.

The work isn't visible to the general public.

"I know it seems we are out there not doing anything," O'Donnell told a crowd of 50 people Wednesday at a luncheon meeting of the Cape Girardeau Lions Club at the Holiday Inn.

O'Donnell said it will take at least to the end of next year before the pier in the middle of the river is completed. The concrete pier on the Missouri shore already stands around 260 feet high and will be extended another 60 feet high before it is finished later this year, he said.

"It's moving along," said O'Donnell.

Once completed, the bridge will be a definite improvement over the narrow, two-lane span that currently connects Cape Girardeau with East Cape Girardeau, Ill., he said.

Said O'Donnell, "You won't have to grip the steering wheel when you are passing a truck."

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