Hannibal News

Bridges near Taylor to get upgrades

By Herald-Whig
Posted: Jun. 21, 2019 12:01 am

TAYLOR, Mo. -- Overpass bridges near Taylor will be upgraded soon thanks to legislation that freed up $50 million to pay for work on 45 bridges across Missouri.

A news release from the Missouri Department of Transportation indicates the contract should be set in August.

"There are three bridges involved along the U.S. 61/U.S. 24 interchange," said Kevin James, assistant district engineer with MoDOT's Hannibal district.

Two of the bridges carry U.S. 61 northbound and southbound near Taylor. The other bridge carries traffic that merges with eastbound U.S. 24 near the former Taylor airport.

James said work will primarily involve deck and pavement improvements.

Another bridge project in Monroe County will involved improvements of the Middle Fork of the Salt River along U.S. 24 near Paris. That contract is scheduled to be awarded in September.

The list of bridge projects was released as the draft 2020-2024 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program was unveiled. MoDOT Planning Director Machelle Watkins said the five-year program includes 1,869 highway and bridge projects. Projects in the plan will improve an average of 1,014 lane miles of interstate highways, 1,346 miles of major routes, 2,652 miles of minor routes and 213 bridges per year.

"The asset management plans focus on preventive maintenance improvements to keep good roads and bridges in good condition. If preventive maintenance investments were not made, the cost of improving the asset in poor condition can cost four to 10 times more," Watkins said.

Patrick McKenna said the annual construction program averages $924 million per year but falls about $825 million short of funding the state's high-priority transportation needs.

MoDOT records show that a decade ago the agency had an annual budget of $1.2 billion.

"This STIP recognizes the serious consequences to our plan if policy makers in Washington are unable to fix the Highway Trust Fund," McKenna said.

James said in Northeast Missouri the five-year plan also calls for work in 2020 on safety improvements and reconfigurations at the intersection of U.S. 61 and U.S. 24 near the Route F junction in Marion County.

"We've had some crashes there, and we'll be putting in a revised turn lane going to Route F. We'll change the angle of that route where it ties in so that it's at a 90 degree angle, and it won't be so tough to see as drivers are pulling out. We'll do those improvements in conjunction with resurfacing," James said.

Most other work in the district will focus on maintenance to the existing transportation system. James said spending in the district next year will be a little more than $58 million. In some other years the spending will be about $61.5 million.

New construction projects, such as the Hannibal Expressway which would divert much of the through traffic around Hannibal, can't be tackled with the current funding level.

"The Hannibal Expressway probably would cost $100 million to $125 million and that's almost twice as much as we're getting each year for projects in the whole district," James said.

He said the Hannibal Expressway, however, remains a project that area residents often ask about and say they would like to see.

James said the district will get one big project completed this year when the new Champ Clark Bridge at Louisiana, Mo., is ready for traffic. The $60 million project was launched in July 2017 with the cost shared between Missouri and Illinois. The new span's western edge starts about 50 feet south of the existing bridge. Pavement on the new bridge will be 44-feet wide with two 12-foot driving lanes and 10-foot shoulders. The 91-year-old Champ Clark Bridge has 10-foot driving lanes and no shoulders. It will be demolished once traffic on U.S. 54 starts to flow across the new bridge.

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