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Ozark’s Riverside Bridge set to re-open by November 1

Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 4:59 PM CDT
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OZARK, Mo. (KY3) - Just a few weeks are left until Ozark’s brand new Riverside Bridge is expected to open to the public. That part of the Finley River has been uncrossable since July 2015, when repeated flooding made the old Riverside Bridge unsafe. The new bridge is designed so flooding won’t be a problem.

Construction crews think the Riverside Bridge will be re-opened to traffic come November 1. It’s been a dream of many for such a long time.

“Ya know, I’ll believe it when I see it. Like I said, this is my cynical face, I don’t know,” said Wanetta Bright. She says for half her decade in business -- the bridge has caused hassle after hassle, and more importantly cost her dollars and customers at her livelihood, the Smallin Civil War Cave.

“I have people who will be led by GPS past the signage which we have paid for to have put up and they end up going all the way to bridge and they’re sitting there scratching their heads and wondering, what do I do now?”

Crews say now Bright, and others, can get excited. The project manager for Hartman & Company, Inc. are confident it will be open come November, and no amount of flooding should overtake it.

“We got the substructure built, the beams are set and they are working on forming up the deck and getting the reinforcing steel in for the deck,” said Larry Henderson, the project manager. He says this new bridge sits much higher than the original, 100-plus year old Riverside Bridge, and is built to last.

It can hold heavy traffic and comes complete with a 10-foot wide biking and walking trail. Engineers have had to navigate some challenges, like utility lines not buried as deeply as they hoped, but they’ve navigated each one, and are confident the final touches are only weeks away.

“We’ve had people, so thank you Jesus we’re very happy about that. It’s good to have people, but it has definitely been a challenge having it closed," Wanetta said.

"It’s always rewarding to see a job start to come together.”

The new bridge is approximately 12 feet higher, so it should not flood, but even if water came up-- because of the special way the rails are built, any water and debris should just be able to just pass through.

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