The 90-year-old Gasconade River Bridge that carries Route 66 near Hazelgreen, Missouri, was closed by the Missouri Department of Transportation a few days ago, and its reopening remains indefinite.
According to a MoDOT page of unplanned bridge closures and restrictions, the bridge was closed Dec. 18 due to “multiple areas of concern … and continued deterioration.”
According to MoDOT:
Future actions for possible repair being examined by Bridge Division and Central District. […] Bridge is 90 years old and is primary detour route when there is an incident on this stretch of Interstate 44.
Correction: A previous quote by MoDOT engineer Preston Kramer erroneously attributed his quote about another bridge over the Gasconade River. In en email Tuesday, Kramer said:
“It is unknown at this time if the Route 66 Bridge over the Gasconade River can even be rehabilitated.”
There seems to be a pattern with historic bridges being given short shrift when it comes to maintenance, then suddenly they are closed and declared unsafe for traffic. Since the Gasconade River Bridge is useful to MoDOT as a detour, hopefully they will get it open again soon. In the meantime, unless we want to see the route completely stripped of its remaining bridges over the next 10-20 years, action must be taken now. Please consider adopting a bridge and getting it listed on NRHP [National Register of Historic Places] …
There also needs to be a letter/email writing campaign to MoDOT to put them on notice that this bridge is one of the route’s crown jewels and MUST not be destroyed. Try to get the media involved, if possible. In the meantime, someone in Missouri needs to step up and get a NRHP nomination going on it. Help with this is available through the Missouri State Historic Preservaion Office (SHPO). Time may be short! Please contact the MO Assn. and get their preservation committee involved ASAP. Saving this bridge will require an all-out effort. […]
Next, and I can’t stress this enough, somebody needs to contact the Missouri SHPO to get a NRHP nomination packet and get busy on it. Meanwhile, folks in general should send emails / letters to MODOT director Dave Nichols. Contact his office at: 105 West Capitol, PO Box 270, Jefferson City, MO 65102-0270. Their website also has an email option for comments.
The Missouri Department of Transportation has an online contact form here.
UPDATE: Apparently “Roamin’ Rich” Dinkela is staging a “save the bridge” rally on the east side of the closed bridge at noon Tuesday (more info on a Facebook post here). I didn’t find out about it until late Monday — yet another example of Facebook posts not always reaching people because of its goofy algorithms.
(Images of the Gasconade River Bridge courtesy of 66postcards.com)