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SIKESTON-Southeast Missouri now has 116 improved bridges thanks to the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Safe & Sound Bridge Improvement Program.
“With the opening of the Route 142 bridge over Main Ditch in Butler County on Aug. 15, we concluded the Southeast District’s portion of the statewide Safe & Sound program,” said District Construction and Materials Engineer Andy Meyer.
The program’s mission is to improve over 800 of the state’s worst bridges in five years. Completion is anticipated by the end of 2012-more than a year ahead of schedule.
Six bridges were replaced in Douglas County in 2011 and 2012. The first to be completed was the bridge spanning Bryant Creek on Route B northwest of Ava. That bridge was completed in April 2011.
Ironically, the final project completed in Douglas County also spanned Bryant Creek, on Highway 76 east of Ava. That bridge was completed and the road reopened last week, on Tuesday, Aug. 14.
Other bridges replaced in Douglas County included:
• Red Bank Creek on Highway 76 near Vanzant in eastern Douglas County, completed May 24, 2011;
• Cowskin Creek Bridge on Highway 14 west of Ava, completed July 29, 2011;
• Fox Creek Bridge on Highway 14 near Gentryville, completed Aug. 12, 2011;
• Beaver Creek Bridge on Highway 76 west of Ava, completed Nov. 18, 2011.
Meyer stated that road closures have been one of the keys to the program’s success.
“Road closures help speed construction and control costs,” he said. “However, we realize that closures are an inconvenience and have appreciated the public’s patience throughout the program.”
He explained some residents were initially skeptical when MoDOT shared its plan for road closures.
“The Safe & Sound team and our subcontractors made it a priority to honor our commitments, and residents soon saw firsthand that we planned to meet or exceed their expectations by delivering results quickly,” said Meyer.
The average closure across the state has been about 40 days, or half the time a typical bridge replacement requires.
In addition to bridges in Douglas County that were replaced through the Safe & Sound Project, area bridges in Ozark and Taney counties were also replaced.
In Ozark County, the Highway 95 bridge across the Little North Fork of White River at Thornfield was completed Nov. 10, 2011.
In Taney County, three bridges were replaced, including the Spring Branch Bridge on Highway 76 west of Bradleyville, completed May 16, 2011; Brush Creek Bridge on Highway 125 south of Bradleyville, completed May 27, 2011; and Beaver Creek Bridge on Highway 76 at Bradleyville, completed on Oct. 4, 2011.
“The projects completed have exemplified the speed, flexibility and quality we can achieve when funding is available,” he said.
In addition to the support the program received from local residents, Meyer explained MoDOT employees were highly dedicated to the program’s success.
“The Safe & Sound program has been very rewarding, and we have drawn on the talents of employees across the Department,” said Meyer. “From designers reviewing plans to maintenance crews completing prep work and monitoring road closures, MoDOT has truly made this a priority.”