Talks between the Route 66 Association of Missouri and the Missouri Department of Transportation over the future of the historic Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen “and are currently at an impasse,” according to a state official’s letter to the director of the State Historic Preservation Office.
Gary Sosniecki obtained a copy of MoDOT’s letter Monday to Toni Prawl, according to his Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society report:
“The Route 66 Association was unable to: resolve issues concerning the stabilization of the bridge structure, supply adequate information to support fund raising ability and meet the terms of liability insurance coverage for the bridge,” the letter said. […]
Eight ideas to temper the impact of bridge removal are listed in the letter, including saving some pieces of the bridge for either the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Museum or the Route 66-themed Boswell Park. The ideas were generated at a “Section 106” consultation meeting of interested parties on Dec. 9. A second Section 106 meeting is planned before the end of June.
MoDOT originally planned to let bids to demolish the bridge last Friday, but the bid opening was withdrawn from the schedule earlier in the week.
That move originally was seen as a victory for those trying to save the bridge, but with today’s letter, it appears the historic bridge remains in jeopardy.
This situation is a sea change from less than a week ago when it was reported the bridge earned a reprieve from the state letting out bids to destroy the closed bridge, giving preservationists a big dose of hope.
Interestingly, the letter also states the Iowa-based nonprofit group Workin’ Bridges made a second attempt to acquire the bridge but dropped it because of ongoing insurance issues with the aged structure. Workin’ Bridges in early 2018 withdrew from its efforts to raise money to preserve the bridge after several Route 66 advocates questioned the group’s plans and its transparency.
Route 66 Gasconade River Bridge Guardians 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.
(Image of the Gasconade River Bridge near Hazelgreen, Missouri, in September 2014 by Indtrigg via Flickr)