Michael Dusenberg of the Missouri Department of Transportation answered some questions regarding the Lamine River Bridge project. He outlined construction and questions regarding safety.
• Tell our readers about the Lamine River Bridge Project, how it came to be and the processes it took to come up with the current plan?
The existing Lamine River Bridge was constructed in 1933. Our maintenance forces have been doing a great job of maintaining the structure over the past few years, but the condition of the bridge has reached a point that is beyond maintenance. Something more substantial needs to be done.
When considering the best option for fixing this bridge, we investigated all options: re-decking or repairing the existing bridge, constructing a new bridge next to the existing bridge and replacing the existing bridge with a new bridge in the same location.
We found the costs for re-decking or repairing the existing bridge were basically the same as constructing a new bridge, so we decided to explore the other two options. While developing the remaining two options, it became apparent that building a new bridge on either side of the existing bridge would cost about $800,000 to one million dollars more than building a new bridge back in the same location.
In addition, constructing a new bridge on a new alignment to the west would impact the WRP (Wetland Reserve Program) easement and likely significantly delay construction, while building a new bridge at the same location would not impact the wetlands and would be more timely and cost effective. These benefits led us to our current plan, which is to close Route 41, detour traffic temporarily along Route K, and build a new bridge in the same location as the existing bridge.
• What condition is the bridge in?
While safe to use, the existing Lamine River Bridge is in poor condition. The deck and truss have some heavy deterioration. The bridge width of 22 feet is also six feet less than what is needed.
• What would it take to build the bridge to the west of the current bridge and the pros and cons of building there?
Constructing a new bridge to the west of the current bridge will significantly impact the Wetland Reserve Program easement on the northwest side of Route 41. Federal policy states that before someone can request a change in a WRP easement, there must not be any existing “reasonable alternatives” that do not impact the WRP easement. Because it was determined that constructing the new bridge at the same location as the existing bridge does not impact the WRP easement, is more cost effective and is a reasonable alternative, we moved ahead with the current proposal. The money saved by building in the existing location – about $800,000 to one million dollars - could be used to replace other deficient structures in the area.
Page 2 of 3 - • What sort of feedback has MoDOT received regarding the bridge removal?
The vast majority of people we’ve talked to definitely agree that the bridge needs to be replaced. Some area residents are concerned about the proposed closure of Route 41 for the bridge work. However, road closures are often a necessary component of road and bridge improvements. We have met with the Cooper County Commission, Blackwater city officials, Arrow Rock city officials, school officials, area farmers, business owners and residents to discuss the best time of year to do this work. We’ve received some good feedback on this, but have not made any final decisions. We continue to work with our Bridge and Construction engineers to look for ways to tighten the construction timeframe as much as possible. Impacts to emergency services are also a consideration. We will continue to work with Cooper County officials on addressing those concerns.
• Safety is a huge concern for area residents who live in the area. What sort of measures would be put in place to promote safety while the project is currently underway and after the completion of it?
Safety is always our first priority. We want the motorists, our employees and our contractors to get home safely every night. Sight distance was a question of many attendees at our public meeting. As you approach the current bridge from the north heading south, the road curvature is relatively flat. However there are some trees that have grown up in the area of the MDC River Access. These trees will be removed during construction to improve sight distance.
As you approach the bridge from the south heading north, the sight distance is about 430 feet. We will cut the slope back on the south end of the bridge and improve the sight distance to about 650 feet. The additional 220 feet of sight distance along with a new, wider bridge will significantly improve safety for motorists in the area. All of the structural components for the new bridge will be under the bridge which will also greatly improve the sight distance in the area.
In addition to the sight distance improvements, we also plan to add additional signing at curves along Route K, the proposed detour route. Additional curve and speed limit signing will be added to Route K near Blackwater. These measures will improve safety during the Route 41 road closure and will remain in place permanently.
• What is the next step in the bridge project?
Right of way plans have been approved, so we will be proceeding with negotiations with property owners for temporary easements for construction. The project is still on schedule for a November 2013 letting. We will be finalizing a time table for when the construction will take place and continuing to work with area officials and citizens on resolving some remaining issues, such as emergency response and safety.
Page 3 of 3 - • Is there anything else you would like to add?
We appreciate everyone’s comments and feedback on the project. The Lamine River Bridge is an important project in Cooper County, and we realize the inconvenience building a new bridge may cause for motorists. The end result will be a wider, safer, more accessible bridge. We are making every effort to minimize the inconvenience, and we appreciate everyone’s continued patience and cooperation as we move forward with this important project.