State transportation officials are echoing comments about Missouri River levels and what little can be done to complete the Highway 47 bridge.
On Monday, Tim Hellebusch, Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) resident engineer for the bridge project, told the Washington Area Transportation Commission it could be September to October before the river level is below the level to safely complete lighting and other segments of the bridge.
“If the river doesn’t come down, it will put us on hold for a while,” he said.
Marschel Wrecking LLC, Fenton, Saturday took down two of the three remaining piers in the river with a controlled blast.
According to Hellebusch, in addition to the third pier, there still is the truss over the railroad on the south side of the river.
Once the demolition is complete, he added, the focus will shift to the bridge approach.
“We will lengthen the curve and the end of the bridge,” Hellebusch stated, adding the curve will extend south from the bridge to Third Street.
“That should help ease some concern,” he added, “but there still will be a curve.”
Hellebusch said in addition to reducing the curve, there will be a 10-foot shoulder added on Highway 47 south of the bridge.
Once the piers and truss are removed lighting on the bridge must be completed.
Then Alberici Constructors, the bridge contractor, still must remove the causeway on the south side of the bridge. It isn’t until then that rebuilding of the riverfront trail can begin.
Like other elements of the project, the water level is key to when that work can begin.
That 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.
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.
The city of Washington will evaluate the existing condition of the trail before giving a specific date on reopening it. Alberici, Marschel and the city are still in negotiations about the final rock removal and trail restoration.
“That is all dependent on the river coming down, said John Nilges, public works director.
According to Hellebusch, in order for lighting to safely be installed the river level should be below 14 feet, however, there still is water being released into the Missouri River at Gavin’s Point Dam, located at the border of South Dakota and Nebraska.
It is predicted that water will continue to be released from the dam until the fall. The contract states Alberici is required to have the entire bridge project completed by Sept. 5, barring rain or flooding. MoDOT will take into account the days that the river level was too high to work when closing out the contract.
Transportation Commission Chairman Bill Straatmann said a Washington resident had complained that there was not a streetlight on Highway 47 approaching the bridge.
Hellebusch said the only lights to be installed on the bridge deck will be on the pedestrian path. He added the city could work with Ameren Missouri to install a street lamp if it is deemed necessary.
Alberici also must replace a fishing dike that was removed for the bridge project.
The $63 million bridge was opened to traffic Dec. 3, 2018, and the old bridge deck was imploded by Marschel April 11.
Hellebusch noted there still must be a trail constructed on the north side before the bridge pedestrian path is opened. The pedestrian path will wrap under the bridge and connect to the trail.
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.
Bicyclists may use the new bridge as part of MoDOT’s “share the road” initiative, but walkers are not permitted on the path or the bridge deck.