JEFFERSON CITY - Now deep into its second summer, the Missouri Department of Transportation's Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program is rapidly improving Missouri's bridges. In the last 15 months, 192 bridges have been repaired or replaced, with a new bridge being opened every two-and-a-half days. When completed at the end of 2013, the Safe & Sound program will replace or improve 802 of the state's worst bridges, most of which are located on rural routes
This week, Interim Director Kevin Keith visited with local officials and residents at the site of two new bridges south of La Monte on Route 127 in Pettis County. These new bridges, built by KTU Constructors, MoDOT's design-build contractor, were completed on July 29 - 15 days ahead of schedule.
With one road closure, KTU was able to replace both bridges in 66 days - far less than the typical bridge replacement project that requires 60-90 days. In effect, KTU built each bridge in 33 days. So far, KTU has constructed 49 new bridges with an average closure time of 39 days.
"The combination of going really fast and folks' tolerance of closing that road are critical," said Keith. "That marriage is working really well."
"One of the real important aspects of the Safe & Sound program is to get these bridges on these rural roads upgraded to a point where our agricultural community can continue to travel back and forth as they harvest and put out the crops," said Pettis County Commissioner Rusty Kahrs. "I think folks sometimes forget how important the bridges and rural roads are to the basic rural economy. These are still farm-to-market roads."
There are 22 bridges on the Safe & Sound program in Pettis County. Nine have already been completed and by this time next year, the rest will be finished. At the State Fair in Sedalia starting Aug. 12, a precast beam for one of those - the Route U bridge over Spring Fork Creek - will be on display outside the Highway Gardens.
For more information on the Safe & Sound program, and to follow construction schedules, visit www.modot.org/safeandsound.
# # #
Editor's note: Click on this link to get b-roll of the newly opened bridges on Route 127 in Pettis County and interviews with (in order of appearance): Kevin Keith, MoDOT interim director; Troy Heckmaster, KTU Constructors project director; Roy Zeb Thomas, Pettis County resident; Charles Reavis, Pettis County resident and Rusty Kahrs, Pettis County presiding commissioner.
To view the FTP site in Windows Explorer, click Page, and then click Open FTP Site in Windows Explorer. Then you can grab the files and drag them onto your desktop.