Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) officials are hoping to minimize the inconvenience to motorists in the Jerome area next summer while the Route D bridge over the Gasconade River is closed for a rehabilitation project.
That was the message they shared with about 53 people who attended an open house community briefing about the project at Jerome First Baptist Church late Wednesday afternoon.
“We have to do this work,” said MoDOT area engineer Preston Kramer. “We tried to find a way to keep the bridge open, but it’s just not possible. We have to shut the bridge down to work, but we’re going to get in and get back out as quick as possible.”
Kramer estimated that the bridge would be closed for about 50 days but noted that MoDOT officials and the contractor may find ways to lower that amount.
According to an information packet available at the meeting, the proposed bridge closure dates will be from June 17 to Aug. 9, 2013.
Kramer said the dates proposed would not affect travel to and from schools in the area, but some residents expressed concerns to him about accessing the river over the summer months.
The project will involve replacing damaged end bents, which are substructure piers that support each end of the bridge, to ensure the safety and integrity of the crossing and improve the support structure under the span.
The existing structure was built in 1996 with end bents that don’t move, but the bents are breaking up because of expansion and contraction of the bridge caused by seasonal changes in temperature. The problem was discovered during MoDOT’s annual inspections, Kramer said.
Work also will involve removing and replacing a small portion of the road to provide access to the bent ends.
According to MoDOT, closure of the bridge is necessary to ensure proper rehabilitation. Allowing traffic on the bridge during construction would cause movement of the bridge and would hinder construction of the end bents.
Both end bents will be constructed at the same time not only to cut down on closure time but also to ensure a uniform, quality product.
During the closure, MoDOT is suggesting travelers use Route 28 and Interstate 44 around the bridge. The detour length is about 28 miles.
Phelps County EMS and fire districts will work with emergency personnel in the Dixon area to help respond to incidents in that area. Kramer said unfortunately, there are not many crossings over the Gasconade River.
At the meeting, attendees were able to provide comments about the project. People also can comment online at www.modot.org/central/major_projects/Phelps.htm
MoDOT is in the process of finishing the design of the project in-house. MoDOT will then begin advertising for bids, which are expected to be opened Feb. 22 and a contract could be awarded by March 6.
The project was included in the 2013-17 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP) approved by the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission in July. According to the STIP, the project is estimated to cost a total of $610,000, which includes about $88,000 for engineering work.