A low-water crossing over a branch of the Dry Fork Creek east of St. James has been chosen by Phelps County Commissioners as the next bridge replacement project to be funded with Bridge Replacement Off-System (BRO) funds that counties are being asked to obligate.
During the commission’s Thursday morning meeting, Presiding Commissioner Randy Verkamp suggested choosing the crossing, which he said “has failed.”
The crossing is located on County Road 3620, just east of Private Drive 3625 and about one mile from the end of Highway DD east of St. James. The crossing is the third one past the end of Highway DD.
Verkamp said the crossing, which is 20 feet wide an 70 feet long, has been “plugged up” and noted that several springs feed the tributary. Verkamp also noted that the crossing is used by school buses.
“We want to make it safer,” said County Road Superintendent Walter Snelson.
The county highway department has been conducting traffic studies along bridges being considered for replacement.
The study for this crossing lasted one week and had an average of 229 vehicles cross the bridge that week. It highest traffic count was on a Tuesday at 374 vehicles.
The existing crossing is not state inspected now, but commissioners said the goal is to replace it with a span that would be inspected by the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT).
Verkamp sent a letter to Jenni Jones, with MoDOT, regarding the bridge project chosen. After MoDOT reviews the project, then engineers can be sought for replacement options.
“This should be the first target for our BRO funds,” Verkamp said.
Late last year, all Missouri counties were asked to obligate all of the their BRO funds. Phelps County’s balance of BRO funds totaled $285,854.74 as of Nov. 27, 2012. The county's soft match funds totaled $18,143.38.
A soft match is a credit earned by counties that replaces their deficient bridges with local funding. This soft match can be used in lieu of the 20 percent local match on bridge projects.