Route 66 soon will lose a historic bridge near Marshfield

The century-old Route CC bridge over the Niangua Branch river on Route 66 east of Marshfield, Missouri, will be closed permanently this week to make way for a new bridge.

That’s the word from Route 66 preservationists and a news release from the Missouri Department of Transportation:

The bridge replacement will require Route CC to be closed for up to four months to allow contractors crews to lengthen the bridge and raise it to a height by 5 feet above the current bridge. During the bridge closing, a signed detour will be in place using several state routes in the area. […]

The current bridge was built in 1923. Approximately 3804 vehicles per day travel across the bridge. The current structure is in poor condition and in need of frequent repairs. lists it as a Pratt pony truss bridge, built by contractor M.E. Gillioz, who built a bunch of bridges in that region.

Route 66 researcher Jerry McClanahan in a Facebook post stated a similar-architecture Route 66 bridge in Wellston, Oklahoma, was rebuilt but used its original side trusses so it could retain its distinctive look. No such efforts apparently will be undertaken with this Route 66 bridge in Missouri.

Another Route 66 researcher, Jim Ross, also stated “there should have been a Section 106 Review and it should have been publicized well in advance” of the construction work beginning.

Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 requires federal agencies to take into account the effects of their work on historic properties and give the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation a reasonable opportunity to comment.

Ross added in a subsequent comment thread:

“What I would have them do is 1) maintain historic bridges so that they don’t reach a point of no return rather than let them go to seed and then claim replacement is the only option; 2) preserve it, either in place or nearby. There are options and there are solutions.”

Ross has said publicly and in his book, “Route 66 Crossings” (Amazon link), the preservation of historic bridges will remain a huge challenge for Route 66 in the years and decades ahead.

The Webster County Route 66 Initiative and Rich Dinkela, president of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, said they were aware of the bridge situation and were working to find solutions.

(Image of the Route CC Bridge near Marshfield, Missouri, via Missouri Department of Transportation)

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