JEFFERSON CITY - A year ago, the Missouri Department of Transportation was celebrating the 200th new bridge constructed under its "Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program." When a new bridge over Apple Creek on US Route 61 in Perry County opened to traffic today, it was the Safe & Sound program's 500th bridge.
"The rate at which we have been completing these projects is incredible," Project Director Ken Warbritton said. "This year alone, we have been opening more than one bridge per day on average. By the end of the year, we plan to have built more than 350 new bridges making this the busiest bridge year in Missouri history."
The Safe & Sound program will rehabilitate or replace more than 800 of the state's lowest rated bridges in five years. Now more than 60 percent complete, the $685 million program is more than a year ahead of schedule and should be complete by the end of 2012.
To speed construction and control costs by limiting the improvements to just the bridge itself, most Safe & Sound bridges are closed during construction. To date, the average closure across the state has been about 40 days, or half the time a typical bridge replacement requires.
KTU Constructors, MoDOT's design-build contractor that is replacing more than 550 of these bridges, is responsible for 307 of the completed projects. In partnership with MoDOT, KTU will have a bridge display at MoDOT's Highway Gardens at the Missouri State Fair that opens Thursday in Sedalia and runs through Aug. 21.