Historic Gasconade River Bridge on Route 66 to remain closed amid Missouri budget shortfalls

Credit: James Baughn/bridgehunter.comCredit: James Baughn/bridgehunter.com

In a statement released Feb. 9, the Missouri Department of Transportation says it’s planning to keep closed “indefinitely” the outer road bridge over the Gasconade River near Hazelgreen due to a lack of funding to repair the bridge or build a new one.

The bridge is 90 years old and is along the historic Route 66 corridor.

The news comes days after the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission approved MoDOT’s “325 System” plan. The plan calls for MoDOT to focus on maintenance rather than new construction on the majority of the state’s roads.

The bridge has been closed since Dec. 18, when engineers determined it was no longer safe for travel. MoDOT says the “least-cost option” to open it up for traffic would run at least $1.5 million and take as long as 11 months to complete. A new bridge for the site would cost $4 million to $4.5 million.

“The repairs needed to reopen the bridge to traffic are much more extensive and expensive than we anticipated,” David Silvester, MoDOT’s Central District engineer, said in the statement.  “At a minimum, it would cost more than $1 million to repair the current bridge, and then it could only carry limited weight loads.  That’s money we just don’t have in our budget right now and don’t expect to have anytime in the near future.”

Silvester added that even with these repairs the bridge would still have a bad deck, and wouldn’t be able to carry loads more than 20 tons, prohibiting large trucks from driving over it.

“That would be a problem given that this bridge is located on the route we use to detour traffic off of I-44 when there’s an incident,” Silvester said.  “The I-44 corridor carries a lot of truck traffic.”