Route 66 advocates learned Wednesday the Missouri Department of Transportation won’t turn over possession of the closed Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen to an “interested party” until early next year.
The news was a bit of a disappointment for the Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians, which had hoped to take possession in September.
According to a report by the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society, the hearing Wednesday by MoDOT was to decide whether a new outer-road bridge would adversely affect Route 66 and the historic bridge, the latter which was closed in December 2014 because of rapid deterioration. MoDOT’s Karen Daniels, a historic preservation specialist, said the new project would have no effect on either.
More from the report:
The Guardians have been working with an Iowa-based nonprofit, Workin’ Bridges, to assume ownership and rehabilitate the Route 66 bridge, although that organization was referred to only as the “interested party” throughout the meeting.
The name of the nonprofit “may be local knowledge, but we’re not going to let it out until the (Missouri Highways and Transportation) Commission does,” Daniels explained.
“Our commission has not signed off on it yet.”
MoDOT is 80 to 90 percent done writing a proposed legal agreement for the interested party to assume ownership of the bridge, project manager Troy Hughes said, adding that he hopes it will be done in the next month or two.
After MoDOT and Workin’ Bridges agree on the terms, it will be presented to the commission for approval. Although the commission meets monthly, it can take two or three months to get on its agenda, which means the bridge may not change hands until next year.
Workin’ Bridges, based in Iowa, is “dedicated to the restoration and preservation of historic truss bridges,” according to its Facebook page.
Jax Welborn, a liaison with Workin’ Bridges, said $2.5 million to $3 million will be needed for the bridge to be restored for pedestrian and bicycle traffic and events such as car shows. But fundraising cannot begin until MoDOT relieves itself of the bridge’s ownership.
Bids for construction on the new bridge are expected to begin next spring.
According to Bridgehunter.com, the 525-foot bridge was built in 1922 to 1924 of three styles of trusses.
(Image of the Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen, Missouri, in September 2014 by Indtrigg via Flickr)