Contractor Bleigh Construction finishes new Warren Barrett bridge 41 days ahead of schedule.

When work commenced in January on the replacement of the Warren Barrett bridge in Hannibal, Brian Chaplin, Department of Public Works (DPW) superintendent, said amount of days the project was completed ahead of schedule would be “great.” Considering that contractor Bleigh Construction has wrapped up work on the new span 41 days ahead of schedule has Chaplin almost giddy.

“I'm real excited. This is a huge project,” he said. “It turned out beautiful.”

Were it not for a problem at an asphalt plant on Thursday the barricades on the busy thoroughfare might have been removed even sooner.

“If we had gotten 4 tons of asphalt (Thursday) we would have striped it (Friday) and opened it up this weekend. We won't be able to get asphalt until Monday,” he said. “We'll have this thing open Tuesday (April 25).”

Initially the bridge was to open Tuesday at 6 a.m. Now the opening is slated to occur a bit later, following a ribbon-cutting ceremony that is set to begin at 9 a.m.

Chaplin attributed Bleigh's rapid progress on this year's fair late-winter weather.

“The break in the weather contributed to all the progress we've had and are having right now,” he said. “This (bridge opening) is good for the people on Warren Barrett, all the industries out there.”

There was concern how closing the span over Bear Creek, located just east of Warren Barrett's intersection with U.S. 61, would impact deliveries and pick ups at the industrial park. According to Chaplin a logistical nightmare never developed.

“We thank the truck drivers very much for helping us out by taking different routes. We did not hear a lot of grief over it. It actually went really well,” he said.

The flow of traffic on the major thoroughfare in southern Hannibal officially changed on Jan. 30, when the western end of Warren Barrett Drive was closed to vehicles

The project's start was delayed for a time to give AT&T the opportunity to relocate some infrastructure that it had in close proximity to the old bridge.

In accordance with a MoDOT recommendation made following a June 2016 inspection, the old bridge was given a 15-ton weight limit in late July. That restriction meant a majority of the thoroughfare's truck traffic needed to detour onto Market and 30th streets, and then back to Warren Barrett.

Initially the plan was to repair the old bridge. However, at its Aug. 2, 2016, meeting the Council decided it would get more bang for its buck by replacing the existing bridge, which was built in 1975. The City Council accepted Bleigh's bridge replacement bid of $565,141 on Dec. 6, 2016.

According to the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT), before the old bridge was given a weight limit, 4,100 vehicles used Warren Barrett per day.

Reach reporter Danny Henley at danny.henley@courierpost.com