The decision on when to close the 201-foot span was a point of discussion during Monday morning’s meeting in the Palmyra courthouse.
The Marion County Road 313 bridge at Taylor will be closed Wednesday, Nov. 8. The county commission agreed to adhere to a recommendation made by the Missouri Department of Transportation, which has red flagged the two-lane span that opened in 1929 when the road was still U.S. 61.
The decision on when to close the 201-foot span was a point of discussion during Monday morning’s meeting in the Palmyra courthouse. Although MoDOT gave the county up to 30 days to take action, Presiding Commissioner Lyndon Bode proposed putting up barricades on Wednesday, Nov. 1.
“I know it will be a hardship,” he said.
Larry Welch, Eastern District commissioner, proposed waiting a bit longer.
“That (Nov. 1) doesn’t give people much time to prepare,” he said. “I’d say the end of the week.”
Steve Begley, Western District commissioner, suggested that even the end of this week might be too soon.
“I would like to wait another week and look at some more options before we make a decision as far as closing it immediately,” he said. “Safety is a concern, but I don’t think we have to worry about light traffic going through, it’s just somebody cutting through there with a load.”
Kent Heimer, one of several people in attendance for the bridge discussion, asked the commissioners to delay the closing through the weekend so that news of the pending closure could be announced Sunday to local church congregations.
Concerns regarding the bridge arose during a MoDOT inspection in February when a significant amount of rust was noted that wasn’t seen two years earlier, according to MoDOT bridge inspector Aaron Hugenberg. MoDOT and the county agreed to partner and hire an engineering firm to perform a closer inspection.
“What they found in August was deterioration throughout the bridge. The biggest problem was the floor beams. Those are the beams that run directly under the concrete deck,” he said on Monday. “This bridge can no longer safely hold the weight of a car.”
According to Hugenberg, options such as making the bridge one lane and reducing the weight limit to 3 tons were considered as a means to keep the aging structure open. But after consulting officials at MoDOT’s headquarters in Jefferson City, the verdict did not change.
“MoDOT is recommending closure,” said Hugenberg. “We’re not going to guarantee the safety of it any more after seeing what we’ve seen.”
MoDOT’s decision came as a disappointment to the county.
“I thought we had it made when it made it through the (August) inspection,” said Bode. “When they didn’t come in and say we’re closing it I thought maybe we could carry on and have a few years to work on it.”
Repair of the existing span remains an option.
“If we make it a one-lane bridge and got it up to carry a decent load, say for a third of the cost and get it done quicker, that would be a viable option,” said Begley.
Members of the public addressing the commission Monday supported a new structure.
“We are in support of replacement probably as soon as possible,” said Roger Sutter, president of the Fabius Drainage District. “It’s important to us there in Taylor. Outsiders wouldn’t have any idea of the amount of traffic that comes across the river there.”
Garry Graham of Prairieland FS said replacing the existing bridge should be done as a safety consideration.
“I would be in favor of replacing the bridge because the current bridge is not wide enough,” he said. “Two three-quarter ton pickup trucks will not fit on that bridge together without busting mirrors. If you’re going to spend the money I would be in favor of replacing it just because you can make it wider so people can get across it safely.”
Reach reporter Danny Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org