Light at the End of the Tunnel: Missouri River Bridge To Open Nov. 14
JEFFERSON CITY – There’s some good news on the horizon for Missouri River Bridge commuters: the westbound Route 54/63 bridge in Jefferson City will reopen on Nov. 14, Missouri Department of Transportation officials announced today.
The bridge, which has been closed since May 1 for painting and other repairs, was expected to open to traffic by the end of August, but unforeseen structural work kept that from happening. More specifically, the blasting process used to remove the old paint on the bridge revealed a larger number of deteriorated rivets needing to be replaced, so MoDOT extended its contract with Saffo, Inc., to repair the rivets and perform other structural repairs.
“While we’re not happy we had to keep the bridge closed for longer than planned, we’re glad to be able to pinpoint a date for the bridge to reopen,” said MoDOT Central District Engineer David Silvester. “Nov. 14 is still some weeks off, but at least we can see a light at the end of the tunnel.”
He added: “We want to thank everyone for their patience and understanding during this time. We know this work has been an inconvenience for many folks.”
Reopening the bridge to traffic will take most of a weekend, much like when it closed, Silvester said. The effort will likely begin the night of Friday, Nov. 11, with the opening of the westbound bridge. Once the westbound bridge is open, work will switch to the eastbound bridge where the concrete barrier separating traffic will be removed, along with the pavement striping that has allowed the eastbound bridge to carry two lanes of traffic in each direction.
Silvester asked commuters to continue to avoid peak travel times on the bridge for the next several weeks to cut down on congestion and the potential for crashes. He also urged drivers to slow down and pay attention as they approach and cross the bridge.
“We continue to experience traffic delays that likely could have been avoided if drivers had been driving the speed limit and paying attention,” Silvester said.
Despite the project delay, Silvester said he was pleased with the contractor’s work.
“Saffo is providing a quality product at a very reasonable price,” Silvester said. “This investment will allow us to get another 20-30 years of service out of the bridge. Without routine maintenance, we’d eventually have to replace the bridge at an estimated cost of $100 million. That’s money we certainly don’t have.”
The westbound bridge was built in 1955 and carries about 28,000 vehicles a day.
More information, including the option to sign up for e-mail updates, is available at www.modot.org/central or by calling 1-888-ASK-MoDOT (275-6636).
Media Availability: MoDOT officials David Silvester and Patty Lemongelli will be available for interviews at 1 p.m. today (Wednesday, Oct. 5) at the Carl G. Noren Missouri River Access or by request.