NEW LONDON, Mo. | The Ralls County Route A bridge across the Salt River reopened to traffic Friday morning after being closed for repairs for three months, announced the Missouri Department of Transportation.
Work crews closed the bridge, which connects U.S. Highway 61 and Missouri Route J over a nine-mile trek, on May 4 for a total overhaul. The bridge is about two miles west of Route H.
Motorists traveling to Monroe City from the eastern areas of Ralls County were forced to take about a 20-mile detour through Hannibal.
MoDOT said the bridge, built in 1976, was originally scheduled to reopen on July 27 but weather delays caused by heavy rains delayed the project.
The state is now working on another bridge across the Salt River, located at Ralls County Route H, which is now closed to traffic. The bridge, built in 1964, is one mile north of Route A, just south of Center.
“This improvement project will also include strengthening girders to eliminate the current load posting as currently 11% of the average daily traffic is comprised of semi-trucks,” said MoDOT regional engineer Brian Untiedt, who is based in Hannibal.
Untiedt said the two bridges are part of the state's $351 million Focus on Bridges program, which will repair or replace 250 bridges across the state.
MoDOT awarded a contract earlier this year to Bleigh Construction Co. for $3,339,980 to complete improvements on both bridges, which included a new deck and guardrail on each bridge. MoDOT said the contract allows for 120 days to complete the Route H project.
“While the undersides of these bridges were in good condition, the decks were in need of replacement,” Untiedt said.
Center Mayor Dennis McMillin, who owns Center Locker, said construction on the bridges is hurting business volume in the city.
“We have not seen much traffic from Iowa, and it is impacting business. Both our convenience stores are seeing slower sales and our sales tax collections will be down,” he said. “I guess this will last until December.”