The completion date for the Highway 47 bridge over the Missouri River has been pushed back to exactly one year after its grand opening ceremony.
On Monday, Missouri Department of Transportation Area Engineer Judy Wagner told the Washington Area Transportation Committee that high river levels and continued rain have dampened completion of the bridge.
“Sorry for the delay,” she said, but the flood gauge has been over 20 feet so much this year and last.”
She noted that there are contingencies built into the contract between the state and Alberici Constructors that allow for the project deadline to be pushed back from Sept. 5. In June, Wagner noted that the project completion date would be pushed back two months.
“Work has stalled with the high water and spring rains,” Wagner commented Monday. “They (Alberici) has been given additional contract days.
“This has just been a crazy year, as you all know,” she added.
Wagner said bridge contracts always ensure additional days based on flood elevation. Otherwise, companies would not bid on the projects. A grand opening ceremony for the $63 million bridge was held Dec. 1, 2018. Traffic began crossing the span two days later.
But there still is much to be done at the construction site, including the removal of piers, lighting, removal of dikes and other projects. Wagner added that pier No. 4 of the old bridge, located on the south bank of the Missouri River, tentatively will be coming down in the next week.
On July 27, Marschel Wrecking, the demolition contractor, blasted two piers, however, pieces of the old bridge landed on the new structure, causing damage. According to Wagner, the damage was minimal but light fixtures on the new bridge must be replaced. Work on the bridge project began in August 2016.
Washington Councilman Steve Sullentrup, a member of the transportation committee, asked if a portion of the pedestrian path on the bridge deck could be opened sooner. Wagner explained that the path still is insured by Alberici, which won’t allow for it to open until all safeguards are put into place.
“We just don’t want to open up and expose ourselves or the contractor to any liabilities — we will have to wait until the lighting is completed.”
The 10-foot-wide biking/walking path is along the west side. An overlook, where walkers and bikers can stop and view the river and city, is at the center bridge pier. The lighting on the bridge deck will be inside the barrier wall on the west side of the bridge to illuminate the pedestrian walkway.
The eastern portion of the Rotary Riverfront Trail in Washington must be rebuilt after the wrecking crew clears the site. The trail has been closed since September 2016 to provide a construction staging area for the new bridge.
A large area was needed for construction workers to assemble steel cages for the piers and for the concrete trucks to move around. There still is construction equipment being stored on the south side of the river. Alberici laid down rock on the trail in an attempt to minimize trail damage.
But, large trucks with heavy material have been driving over it. According to John Nilges, Washington public works director, the city is working with Alberici to acquire the rock used at the construction site.
The city may use it for fill at the Washington Municipal Airport.