LOUISIANA, Mo. -- The new Champ Clark Bridge across the Mississippi River at Louisiana is scheduled to be dedicated on Saturday, Aug. 3.
The Missouri Department of Transportation on Thursday announced the date for the dedication and ribbon-cutting. However, MoDOT District Engineer Paula Gough said the bridge might not be opened to traffic that day.
Gough said the opening of the bridge might be delayed until later in August depending on when work can be completed on the Sny Island Levee and Drainage District's levee on the Illinois side of the river. The levee had to be crossed by the U.S. 54 approach leading to the bridge, and the approach work has been slowed by flooding.
The bridge itself, however, is expected to be finished earlier than expected. Massman Construction Co., the general contractor, has said all along that the bridge would be completed by "the fall of 2019." Gough said Massman continues to makes significant progress on the new bridge, despite prolonged flooding along the river.
Gough said a committee made up of residents from around the region set a date for the dedication after hearing that the project was ahead of schedule.
"The date was contingent on when the bridge could be completed, as well as when James Beauchamp Clark's great-grandson, Benjamin Clark, could participate, and we are pleased he is available," Gough said.
Gough said the committee is planning a memorable ceremony. The committee is hoping to include some "significant dignitaries" as guest speakers -- besides Benjamin Clark.
"Since we just established the date for the ceremony, we will continue to work with all those involved in its planning to finalize details," Gough said. When those details are finished they will be posted on the Champ Clark Bridge website -- champclarkbridge.com -- and on its Facebook page.
The new bridge is being built about 50 feet downstream from the existing bridge, built in 1928. The existing Champ Clark Bridge will be demolished by spring of 2020.
The project started moving ahead full steam in June 2017 when the Missouri Highways and Transportation Commission awarded a $60 million contract to Massman Construction, which is teaming with HNTB, a design engineering firm, to carry out the design and construction under a single contract. The costs are being shared by Missouri and Illinois.
After a ground-breaking ceremony was held Sept. 8, 2017, Massman's crews worked through the winter months to make headway on the first critical stage of the project, which involved building the four sets of main river piers that support the bridge's superstructure.
Building the piers required drilling through 24 feet of bedrock and then filling the steel-reinforced shafts with concrete.
Construction of the upper sections of the bridge then moved along relatively quickly after that.