Fundraising has begun for rehabilitation of the Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge, Jax Welborn of the Route 66 River Bridge Guardians announced Oct. 13 in a Facebook post.

Welborn, who also is on-site project manager for Workin’ Bridges, the Iowa-based nonprofit organization that is trying to acquire the bridge for rehabilitation purposes, reported that the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission has given the “go ahead” to Workin’ Bridges to raise money for the project.

The commission, which met Oct. 4 in Kirksville, has not approved selling the bridge yet to Workin’ Bridges. Negotiations continue on a transfer agreement.

“One concern expressed by the Commission was the possibility of the truss bridge dislodging during a flood and potentially doing some damage to the new bridge and/or existing I-44 bridges,” Welborn wrote.

“Workin’ Bridges is working with MoDOT on a solution, which may add to the amount of money that we need to raise.”

At an Aug. 23 meeting with Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) officials in Lebanon, Welborn estimated that $2.5 million to $3 million would be needed for the bridge project.

Welborn said she will create a new Facebook page for the bridge project.

Donations may be made online at https://squareup.com/store/rt66bridgeguardians. Welborn may be contacted at rte66bridgerehab@gmail.com.

Meanwhile, The Lebanon Daily Record reported that MoDOT project manager Troy Hughes told the Laclede County Commission Oct. 10 that the replacement bridge will be completed by the summer of 2019.

Hughes explained the negotiations with Workin’ Bridges for the old bridge: “Essentially, we are trying to work out an agreement . . .Their ultimate goal would be to raise money to reopen the structure to light traffic such as ten tons or less so that cars could use the bridge,” he said.

According to The Daily Record, Hughes said if Workin’ Bridges did raise the necessary funds, MoDOT would add another access to the bridge that is not shown on the current plans so people could access the old bridge and then return to the outer road.

Hughes said he plans to hold a public meeting in mid-November to explain the new-bridge project.

As for Workin’ Bridges, a story in the Oct. 13 issue of The Sentinel in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, reported that the historic Craighead Bridge was officially handed over to the organization the previous Friday.

“Workin’ Bridges purchased the bridge in May from the county for $1,” the newspaper said.

“’Really, it’s your bridge,’ said Julie Bowers, executive director of North Skunk River Greenbelt Association, the original, local name of Workin’ Bridges, during a transfer of ownership ceremony Friday. ‘I’ll call it mine … but it can be yours too.’

“The group will begin raising funds necessary for restoration and improvements of the bridge, which will eventually be reopened for pedestrian and recreational use,” the article said.

The newspaper said “Craighead Bridge, which was constructed in 1899 by the Pittsburgh Bridge Co., was closed in July 2013 after an inspection revealed substantial deterioration.”

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