The historic Front Street Bridge, aka the Galena Viaduct, that carried Route 66 into Galena, Kansas, will be closed for renovations until July.
KSNF-TV reports the bridge’s road surface, sidewalks and hand rails are being repaved. It’s being paid for with a $193,000 Community Development Block Grant, with Cherokee County covering the other half of the cost.
The station reported:
Mayor Dale Oglesby says the town is pretty excited about it.
“I think it’s going to be really neat,” Oglesby explained. “It’s a restoration project, and we’re pretty stoked about it. And of course, that’s going to tie into our downtown phase too so we’ll have the restoration complete and clear to the bridge now.”
In the meantime, a detour will be set up on Clark Street to allow travelers a chance to go through town.
At the time the grant was announced, Cherokee County commissioner Pat Collins said the repairs were needed so the bridge could handle the weight of firetrucks and large RVs. Collins said the bridge, built in the 1920s, is the oldest one still maintained by the county.
Collins, who once was a law-enforcement officer in the region, said the bridge endured several traffic accidents decades ago, when Kansas and nearby Missouri had different minimum drinking ages. As a result Missouri-Kansas state line less than a mile away had five taverns doing a brisk business. Kansas finally raised its drinking age to 21 by the mid-1980s.
The bridge’s pillars and support structure also were repaired in 2010, partly with a grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program.
The bridge leads directly to Cars on the Route, Bordello Antiques and the historic downtown area.