The closed Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen, Missouri, was facing a spring deadline to find a new owner for the historic span or the Missouri Department of Transportation would advertise for bids to tear it down.
That deadline is off the table, according to Joe Sonderman of the Route 66 Association of Missouri. He wrote in a Facebook post Tuesday:
FLASH…..Breaking News – Its been a long hard battle, and it’s not completely over yet, but with Rich’s leadership & a lot of help from the Historic Bridge Foundation, and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, we’ve been advised that MoDOT will NOT let the contract for demolition of the Gasconade River Bridge on May 15th as they had planned. We’re still working on the issue of insurance, but we’re a bit closer to success at this point.
Rich, by the way, is “Roamin’ Rich” Dinkela, president of the association and a key member of the Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians.
Judy Wallmark, a member of the Guardians group, stated in a text the bridge foundation and National Trust contacted the Federal Highway Administration, who in turn contacted MoDOT.
Guardian officials long have said they’re hopeful Laclede County or another entity eventually can take over the bridge’s ownership.
State officials closed the nearly 90-year-old bridge in December 2014 after an inspection revealed grave deterioration in the structure. MoDOT later built a new bridge a few yards away from the old bridge and Interstate 44.
UPDATE 5/14/2020: Gary Sosniecki of the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society wrote:
MoDOT sent a letter “to whom it may concern” on May 12 announcing the bid cancellation, although the Route 66 Association of Missouri had not been notified officially as of noon Thursday.
The Route 66 Association of Missouri continues negotiations to take over ownership of the iconic bridge with hopes of eventually restoring it for pedestrian use. The Federal Highway Administration and the National Trust for Historic Preservation also are involved in the discussions.
Sosniecki said negotiations are focused on what would be adequate insurance on the bridge.
(Vintage postcard image of the Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen, Missouri, via 66Postcards.com)