MoDOT to kick off ‘I-44 Corridor Bridge Bundle’ project in May

Published: Apr. 15, 2022 at 9:35 PM CDT
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LAWRENCE COUNTY, Mo. (KY3) - Quite a bit of construction on and near I-44 is just about to kick off, with a big focus also on revamping more than two dozen bridges across the Ozarks.

The Missouri Department of Transportation will begin its “I-44 Corridor Bridge Bundle” project at the start of May. As a part of that effort, MoDOT will improve 25 bridges across five different counties. Those counties include Jasper, Lawrence, Greene, Webster, and Dallas counties.

A total of 16 bridges will be replaced, and nine bridges will be rehabilitated. Seven of the impacted bridges are on I-44, five bridges are over I-44, and 13 bridges are on other state routes within 15 miles of the interstate. The department says many bridges are experiencing deterioration, requiring an increasing amount of maintenance to keep them safe for travel.

“The average age on the Missouri bridge, I believe was around 50 years,” said MoDOT Area Engineer Beth Schaller. “And that’s including all the new replacements that we’ve pushed very hard in the last several years.”

Schaller said old age is a major reason several bridges need replacing. There are more than 10,000 bridges across Missouri, and about 900 of those are considered to be in poor condition.

“Other bridges are aging as we speak,” Schaller said. “So the fight is always to try to manage that list and try to keep it as low as possible.”

The efforts will kick off in Lawrence County in just a few weeks. A little more than a dozen bridges will either be repaired or replaced in Lawrence County.

“Nine of those are currently scheduled for Lawrence County this year,” Schaller described. “And I believe all of those are in in poor condition in some form or fashion.”

All of the bridges scheduled for this year are not on I-44. Those Lawrence County repairs and replacements will result in road closures in the coming weeks and months.

“That’s where we give the public notice that we’re going to close the road,” Schaller said. “We’ll have changeable message signs out to catch those travelers that traveled every day to give them warning.”

Schaller said several bridges that will be replaced and repaired this summer are close to each other, so they will be done at the same time. This includes a couple bridges on Route 96.

“We worked with the contractor to make sure that both bridges were going to be done at the same time since we knew that we would have to close 96,” she said. “Not only does it carry a lot of of truck traffic and commuter traffic, but it’s also our incident bypass route if anything happens on I-44. So we wanted to limit that time that the road was actually closed.”

Some drivers are looking forward to the completed work.

“I think roads and bridges are very important and they need to be fixed if they are in a state of disrepair,” driver Greg Armstrong said. “And of course if they’re fixed everybody is happy and traffic isn’t blocked up.”

Many other bridges over I-44 and on I-44 will be worked on, but many of those projects do not kick off until either 2023 or 2024.

”One of the challenges with letting these bridges get so much older is we just have a lot more of these emergency type repairs because they are older and you just never know what’s going to pop up,” Schaller described.

MoDOT says the bridges will become safer, which will help prevent any emergency repairs and closures.

”Most of the bridges are going to be a little bit wider,” Schaller said. “They’ll have better safety improvements and things like that. So you’re just going to get a more modern bridge.”

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