Missouri River flooding has set back the removal of the old Highway 47 bridge by about two months.
That is according to Tim Hellebusch, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) resident engineer for the project, who said crews can’t work to remove piers until the river is below flood stage.
“The recent flooding has put the demolition work on hold. To be efficient with removals, the river really needs to be below 20 feet on the Washington river gauge,” he told The Record. “Based on the current forecast, we are optimistic we will be back on the water within a couple of weeks.”
The Missouri River at Washington has dropped 7 feet in depth in the last two weeks.
After reaching its 10th highest recorded crest of 29.45 feet on June 8, the National Weather Service (NWS) has projected the river will make a slow but sharp decline and reach the 20-foot stage July 5 before falling to below 19 by July 7. The average depth of the main river channel at Washington is 15 feet.
The removal of the old bridge is being done by Marschel Wrecking LLC, Fenton. The company was contracted to blast the old bridge and remove the pieces from the water. Marschel also will remove the remaining piers and two trusses. The old bridge was imploded by Marschel April 11.
“We still need to remove the bridge piers in the water, as well as several piers that still remain on land near the riverbanks and around the railroad,” Hellebusch added. “There also is a small section of the truss still remaining on the Warren County bank that needs to be removed, as well as a small section over the railroad.
“All in all, we expect almost a two-month setback due to the rain and flooding,” he further added.
If there had not been flooding, Alberici Constructors Inc., the general contractor, would have been required to have the entire bridge project completed by Sept. 5.
Still on tap for the new bridge project is lighting. Underneath the structure will be pier and girder lights to add to the bridge aesthetics.
“The remaining work on the aesthetic lighting needs to be done from a barge on the river. This work will be at least a couple weeks before we can get started,” Hellebusch said. “At this point I would anticipate August or September for that work to be completed.”
The lighting on the bridge deck will be inside the barrier wall on the west side of the bridge to illuminate the pedestrian walkway.
Aesthetic lighting, like the girder and pier lighting, is intended to enhance the forms of the structure or provide a visual nighttime experience. It can be used above or below the deck to illuminate components of the bridge.
On the new bridge, linear LED lights are mounted along the underside of the girders close to the pier cap. The effect of the lights will light the face of the pier cap while setting the raised panel in shadow.
The lights will be brighter in the center and dim as they reach outward to “highlight” the shape of the girders and piers.
As far as the pedestrian walkway and the eastern portion of the Rotary Riverfront Trail, Hellebusch noted that will be finished toward the end of the project.
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.
There still must be a trail constructed on the north side before the bridge pedestrian path is opened.
“The plan today is to open the pedestrian walkway on the bridge when we complete the trail connection on the Warren County end of the bridge,” he said. “That work will be some of the last work completed on the project.”
The eastern portion of the Rotary Riverfront Trail must be rebuilt before opening. 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.
“Regarding the trail on the Franklin County side under the bridge,” Hellebusch added, “we will still be using it as access until all the work is completed and the rock causeway has been removed.”