The Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge at Hazelgreen once more is listed as endangered by the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation, this year ranking 15th among the historic "Places in Peril" for 2018.
The rankings were announced Friday night at a news conference in Kansas City. Incorporated in 1976, the Missouri Alliance for Historic Preservation describes itself as Missouri's premier statewide historic preservation advocacy non-profit organization. It has been publicizing a list of endangered historic places for about 15 years.
Properties on the list range from a train depot in Bethany to an entire neighborhood in St. Louis. Properties might be endangered for a host of reasons including inappropriate development, neglect, lack of funds, improper city planning and absenteeism.
Here's the description of the Gasconade River Bridge from the alliance's news release:
The Route 66 Bridge over the Gasconade River near Hazelgreen consists of a three-span through truss structure which was designed by the Missouri Highway Department and fabricated by the Illinois Steel Company of Chicago between 1922 and 1924. It represents one of the few bridges remaining from the 1920s and constructed even before the Federal Aid Highway Act, which established a national highway system in 1925. Route 66 is without a doubt the most famous road in America. The bridges and roads that are part of the Route 66 corridor are important because they characterize Missouri and the changes that took place as a result of the automobile. Scenic byways such as Missouri’s Route 66 have value not only for aesthetics and preservation, but are also a way to promote heritage tourism and increase tourism income. Historical records show that there has long been an absence of repair and maintenance at this bridge. The Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen was reported for several years to be deficient, but no remediation done to correct its problems. Then in 2014 the bridge was permanently closed to traffic. Recently Pulaski County and the Missouri Department of Transportation reopened a similar Route 66 bridge, the Devil’s Elbow Bridge. The effort was funded in large part with grant money. The Route 66 Gasconade River Guardians received a National Park Service matching grant in the amount of $6000, and the group is now pursuing an engineering assessment to determine the structural status of the Bridge. When completed they hope to more actively pursue a new owner for the Bridge, as the Missouri Department of Transportation has plans to begin demolition in March 2019 if a suitable new owner is not identified. It is hoped the assessment will be a tool to estimate repair costs to make the bridge safe for pedestrian, bicycle or vehicular traffic. It is hoped the Route 66 Gasconade River Guardians can continue their work to help raise awareness and needed funds to find it possible to reopen this iconic bridge on the “mother road.”