Work may start as soon as next month to remove the decking from the closed Meramec River (aka Route 66) bridge at Route 66 State Park near Eureka, Mo., near the site of the abandoned town of Times Beach.
The Suburban Journals reported:
The goal is to take weight off the structure, keeping the 80-year-old bridge from collapsing into the river. Because of its weakened condition, the bridge has been closed to vehicle and foot traffic since October 2009.
The steel substructure will be left in place for future use by preservation groups, said Tom Montesdeoca, project manager with the Missouri Department of Transportation.
“We’re staging this to give preservation groups a chance to develop a plan to take over the bridge and repair it,” Montesdeoca said. “If one of them can do that, we’ll work with that group.”
If renovated, the most likely use will be for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, he said.
The estimated cost to remove the decking will be up to $400,000. Bids for that project will be opened today.
About 20 preservation groups are working to nominally restore the bridge. According to the executive director of Scenic Missouri, the state has agreed to maintain ownership of the bridge until 2017.
The announcement is a big win for preservationists. At one point, it appeared the state would demolish the dilapidated bridge. But the bridge’s closure also led to decreased visitor numbers to the park, namely because it required a new, convoluted route.
The bridge once was near the site of Time Beach, a small town that was evacuated in the 1980s because of dioxin contamination.