HAZELGREEN – Based on feedback from a public meeting held last December, as well as on interest shown by groups wanting to preserve the Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen, the Missouri Department of Transportation announced today it is moving ahead with building a new bridge over the Gasconade River in Laclede County that will lie adjacent to Interstate 44. The current structure will remain in place for now.
The majority of public comments stemming from a Dec. 14, 2016, public meeting held in Lebanon supported constructing a new bridge near I-44 and leaving the current facility, located on historic Route 66, intact. However, MoDOT has indicated all along that liability issues and limited funds would require the department to remove the bridge unless an outside entity stepped forward to take ownership of and maintain the bridge.
The current bridge will remain in place as the agency works through the requirements of Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act. The act requires federal agencies and the recipients of federal funds, such as MoDOT, to consider the effects of projects on properties eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places, such as the Gasconade River Bridge.
While MoDOT’s Historic Preservation Division works with parties interested in preserving the current bridge, the department is advertising for a consultant to design the new bridge. MoDOT hopes to have a consultant on board by the end of March, with the design work lasting through the remainder of the year. The project is tentatively scheduled to bid in April 2018, with construction beginning in summer 2018. MoDOT hopes to have traffic on the new bridge by early 2019.
MoDOT will hold another public meeting to share the design plans and alignment, as well as any progress made on the potential for saving the current bridge. That meeting will tentatively take place in late summer or early fall.
MoDOT closed the Gasconade River Bridge, located on the Interstate 44 outer road, on Dec. 18, 2014, due to considerable deterioration. The Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission in July 2016 approved $4.4 million in construction funding in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program to replace the bridge.