The Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians have announced that a ribbon-cutting ceremony will be held at 12:30 p.m. Friday, Aug. 2, on the west end of the new bridge, which will enable Route 66 traffic to cross the river for the first time since MoDOT closed the old bridge Dec. 18, 2014, because of extensive deterioration.

"We’ve invited several politicians to attend, as well as local folks. Representatives of the Gasconade River Bridge Guardians, the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society, the Laclede County Commissioners and the Missouri Route 66 Association will be there," Judy Wallmark, secretary-treasurer of the Guardians, said Friday.

About 15 classic vehicles from the Cave State Cruisers Car Club are expected to be the first to cross the bridge after the ribbon is cut.

The new bridge is parallel to and between the Interstate 44 bridge and the historic steel-truss bridge that the Guardians have been trying to save since it was closed. Contractor for the $4.4-million project was Emery Sapp & Sons. Construction began in August 2018.

"We hope a large crowd of local folks will be there to celebrate the opening of the new bridge – which will reconnect Route 66 at that location, as well as to celebrate the old Gasconade Bridge we have been fighting very hard to save," Wallmark said.

Although the old bridge is closed to traffic while its future is being determined, it remains accessible to tourists.

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