The Missouri Department of Transportation is greatly accelerating the replacement of a railroad bridge on Missouri 96, aka Route 66, on the northeast side of Carthage, Missouri, giving hope the project will prove much less disruptive to Route 66 businesses.
According to the Carthage Press, the highway agency will:
- Seek bids for the bridge’s replacement in December, instead of February.
- Allow the winning bid to begin the project by mid-January, instead of April.
- Provide financial incentives to finish the bridge replacement as soon as possible.
- Place signs on the Route 66 detour of North Garrison Street — an old alignment of Route 66 — before 2017 tourism season.
MoDOT didn’t give a timetable of when the bridge replacement would be finished. The severity of winter weather will have a big impact on how fast construction progresses.
But with the accelerated timetable and incentives, a reopening in early to mid-summer doesn’t seem out of the question.
The 1934 overpass unexpectedly closed in early September after a state inspection showed serious deterioration. The state wasn’t expecting to close it until spring 2017.
Residents and Route 66 business owners attended meetings in July about the imminent closing of the bridge and gave the agency valuable advice on how to deal with the situation — including the Route 66 detour.
MoDOT took a lot of heat for another bridge project in 2012 that detoured Route 66 tourists away from much of the Mother Road in Carthage. This time, give MoDOT credit for listening and being more flexible with this situation.
(Image of the Missouri 96 railroad overpass in Carthage courtesy of Ron Hart at the Route 66 Chamber of Commerce)