Updated March 31, 2021
Can the bridges be widened and rehabilitated instead of replaced?
MoDOT understands this question may come from the desire to preserve the existing aesthetics of these historic bridges. Technically speaking, it would be possible to widen and rehabilitate these bridges instead of replacing them. However, there are several concerns with rehabilitating instead of replacing these aging structures.
- Overall, the goal is to improve the condition and functionality of the bridge crossings over the Current River and Spring Valley. While rehab projects would temporarily achieve this goal, it would not allow the bridges to meet the 75-year lifespan desired by MoDOT.
- With the current condition of the bridges, it would cost almost as much to rehabilitate the bridges as it would to build new bridges.
Will new structures have the same aesthetics as the existing bridges?
The historic bridges over the Current River and Spring Valley were constructed in the 1924 and 1930, respectively. Since that time, many things have changed, including how bridges are designed and constructed, as well as materials and costs.
Constructing new bridges to match the existing aesthetics would dramatically increase the cost of these bridge replacements. The primary goal is to improve the condition and functionality of these bridges, and the bulk of the budget for these bridges must be dedicated to that goal. Today, we have concrete and steel beam and girder designs that allow longer spans and, in comparison, result in less impact to the sensitive environmental area that is the floodplain of the river.
While there are budgetary concerns with matching the existing aesthetics, there are possibilities to achieve modern aesthetic structures.
Have there been any concept sketches or renderings for a new bridge?
A previous rehabilitation study, which is available on the project website, looked at possible layouts and materials for a new bridge. The current NEPA study used that study as a starting point, while also evaluating other possible locations for a new bridge. Currently, the structural team is looking at different girder options, span arrangements and layouts, as well as aesthetic items.
We do not have concept sketches or renderings at this time. This is something that we'll be working on over the next several months.
What is the possibility of either bridge being rehabilitated enough to be retained as a pedestrian bridge?
It would not be desirable for MoDOT to keep the existing bridge open just for pedestrians due to the maintenance costs. Pedestrians will be accommodated by the existing pedestrian bridge, or if the existing pedestrian bridge is removed, pedestrians will be accommodated by either wide shoulders or a separated walkway on the new Current River Bridge. The Section 106 process will look at the possibility of someone else taking over ownership and maintenance of the existing bridge; however because the bridge is within the Ozark National Scenic Riverway boundary, the National Park Service would need to be involved and may not allow property ownership by an outside entity. Additionally, the Current River is a popular location for floaters, and having two bridges with two sets of piers to navigate creates an impact on this recreational use.