Route 66 News

Route 66 Bridge makes Missouri Preservation’s Most Endangered List

The Route 66 Bridge at Route 66 State Park near Eureka, Missouri, made Missouri Preservation‘s Most Endangered Historic Places list for 2014, according to a news release Tuesday.

The Diamonds Cafe, aka the Tri-County Truck Stop, also on Route 66 in Villa Ridge, also made the preservation group’s Watched list for 2014.

Here’s what the group said about the bridge:

The Route 66 Bridge over the Meramec River in Southwest St. Louis County was constructed in 1932 and is known as a Warren deck truss bridge, of which only three other examples remain in Missouri.  Route 66’s passage across the Meramec River was heavily promoted as a tourist attraction due to the river itself, as well as the adjacent working class resort community known as Times Beach.  Although major highway traffic is now carried over the Meramec by the Interstate 44 Bridge, the Route 66 Bridge was incorporated into the boundaries of Route 66 State Park, which opened in 1999.  A Route 66 Museum was opened in a former lodge and road house, which houses maps and memorabilia from “The Mother Road.” Most of the remaining acreage of the park, however, lies across the bridge in what was formerly Times Beach, leaving the interpretive center cut off from most of the remaining park space. Previously one of the most visited State Parks in Missouri at around 250,000 visitors per year, park attendance has dropped since the bridge’s closure in 2009. There is strong support from a number of local and statewide groups to preserve this bridge.  Since this is a deck truss bridge, the biggest detriment to its structural integrity is the heavy weight of the concrete surface above. The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has used some of the money in its demolition budget to remove the deck and give supporters of saving the bridge until 2015 to find a new owner to assume the cost of rehabilitation.

Being on the list may do some good. The resultant publicity usually spurs governments or individuals to do something about an endangered property. With the case of the Route 66 Bridge, putting it back into service also would greatly boost attendance at the state park, which has lagged since the bridge’s closing.

The Diamonds Cafe, aka the Tri-County Truck Stop, was built in 1950. It became the Tri-County in 1970 after the Diamonds moved closer to Interstate 44. The truck stop, famous for an alleged ghost on the premises, closed in 2006 and has languished since.

(Image of the Route 66 Bridge near Eureka, Missouri, via Missouri Preservation)

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