PALMYRA, Mo. -- The Marion County Commission took steps Monday to expedite the replacement of a former state highway bridge crossing the North Fabius River near Taylor.
The commission voted to put the County Road 313 bridge at the top of its list of bridge-replacement projects. It also agreed to hire MECO Engineering in Hannibal to begin designing a new bridge.
The current bridge, built in 1929, is slated to be closed at noon Wednesday because a recent inspection indicated that the bridge has deteriorated significantly.
"This bridge can no longer safely hold the weight of a car," Aaron Hugenberg, a senior construction inspector for the Missouri Department of Transportation, told commissioners last week. "We're not going to guarantee the safety of it anymore."
MoDOT recommended that the bridge be closed immediately. So county officials will halt traffic at noon Wednesday. The road will be barricaded.
"Safety is the major concern," Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode said Monday. "That's the main reason the bridge is being closed."
Bode on Monday voted with Western District Commissioner Steve Begley to designate the Taylor bridge as the county's top bridge-replacement priority. Eastern District Commissioner Larry Welch was absent.
Begley said he was initially hoping the county might be able to make some repairs to the existing bridge and extend its life for a couple of years. But "that is not a viable option at all," he said.
Begley said the recent inspection found the Taylor bridge is in worse shape than previously realized, so the best approach is to shut it down "and get a new one in there as soon as possible."
Bode said it will take at least a year before construction on a new bridge can begin.
Local farmers who use the bridge were disappointed to see that the span will be closed because the bridge has given them a relatively safe route for moving big equipment without having to venture onto the four-lane highway carrying U.S. 61 and 24.
Begley said he's trying to secure some funding from the U.S. Department of Transportation to help pay for the bridge-replacement project. He is emphasizing that the local bridge helps keep farm equipment off of busy U.S. 61/24.
"This bridge is vital to the safety on Highway 61, which is a major highway," Begley said. "I am really pushing the safety aspect of it with the federal boys."
Several representatives from the Fabius River Drainage District were on hand Monday to show support for replacing the bridge. Roger Sutter, district president, said the drainage district has retained Klingner and Associates to help make sure the new bridge ties into the district's levee system in a suitable manner.
Also Monday, Begley said he recently learned the 10th Judicial Circuit's Juvenile Justice Center has been tentatively approved for a $30,000 grant to build a ramp accessible by people with disabilities.
Teya Stice, the county's land-use and capital-improvements coordinator, announced that new Marion County plat books are available at the University of Missouri Extension office in the Palmyra courthouse for $30.
Stice also said large-size maps showing land ownership and governmental districts in Marion County will be available through her office for a fee.