The Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians have gathered enough donations to help pay for an engineer’s study for the bridge. Now, the nonprofit group is using the money to put together “pitch packets” for prospective new owners of the closed and endangered span near Hazelgreen, Missouri.
In an article this week in the Rolla Daily News:
The Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians representative, Jackie Welborn, explained that the money raised and the grant funds for the engineer study will be used to locate persons of interest who would be willing to take over the bridge. The engineer study will determine what needs to be done to make the bridge safe for pedestrian and bicycle use.
Unless a party of interest takes over the bridge, MoDot still plans to demolish the bridge in March of 2019. MoDot is currently constructing a new bridge to redirect interstate traffic. As Welborn stated, “The bridge is a part of our history and a is beautiful Route 66 landmark”. She is hopeful in saving the Gasconade River bridge.
In a text, Welborn stated:
The newest donations will be used to cover printing of ‘pitch packets’ (including the engineering summary), the mailing of the packets and any travel that might be incurred going to meet potential developers. […] We wish to send informational packets showing the possibilities for owning the bridge.
As for the deadline set by the Missouri Department of Transportation, she wrote:
That is a deadline put forth due to the MODOT ‘advertising’ (for lack of a better word) of the bridge on their official ‘bridge for free’ website. We know that they won’t dismantle our bridge until they have completed the new bridge. We believe that as long as we are still actively working to find a new owner, they will delay demolition, but not indefinitely.
The engineer’s study, partly paid for with a cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, was done a few weeks ago. Results are forthcoming.
Those who wish to donate to the Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians should go to its Facebook page. Donations also will be accepted in person at the Route 66 Community Art Gallery at 107 B Historic Route 66 in Waynesville, Missouri.
State officials closed the bridge in December 2014 after an inspection revealed grave deterioration in the 90-year-old structure. MoDOT is building a new bridge a few yards away from the old bridge and Interstate 44.
(Image of the Gasconade River Bridge courtesy of MaryPetrina Photography)