Highway 47 Bridge

Planning has started for enhancements to be added to a new Missouri River bridge at Washington.

State and federal plans call for the new bridge to be built in 2017-18, however that could happen sooner if a new revenue source is found, according to Judy Wagner, MoDOT area engineer.

Wagner organized the “kickoff” meeting Wednesday morning of a newly formed bridge enhancement committee that will be responsible for the final decisions on what enhancements will be funded with money contributed for the project by the city of Washington and Franklin and Warren counties.

The city last week sent MoDOT its check for $500,000 and Franklin and Warren counties previously contributed $250,000 and $50,000 toward enhancements.

That means $800,000 is available for enhancements, not counting about $1,400 raised by local schoolchildren.

Wagner noted that the city also can apply for federal enhancement grant funds through the East-West Gateway Council of Governments, which considers eligible projects for funding through its annual Transportation Improvement Program. That would provide even more funding for enhancements.

About 20 people attended the first meeting at city hall, including MoDOT engineers, city and county officials and representatives of HDR, the engineering firm selected to design the span that will replace the existing bridge completed in 1936.

Members of the local enhancement committee include:

Bob Zick, Highway 47 Bridge Committee chairman; Darren Lamb, the city’s community and economic development director; Mayor Sandy Lucy; Mercy Hospital Administrator Terri McLain; Franklin County Presiding Commissioner John Griesheimer;

Warren County Presiding Commissioner Arden Engelage; Bryan Bogue, representing the Washington Historic Preservation Commission; and Bridgette Epple, executive director of Downtown Washington.

During the meeting, Zick asked citizens to contact committee members with any ideas on enhancements to the bridge.

“It is very important that you make decisions as we need them,” Shirley Norris, MoDOT project manager, told the committee. That’s in order to avoid extra expenses of making changes to the plan, she said.

Wagner indicated that the basic bridge design now includes a 10-foot-wide walking/biking path on the west side with one or two overlooks.

There are a lot of advantages to placing the walkway on the west side of the bridge, said Cory Imhoff with HDR. He said the decision was made to go from an 8-foot to a 10-foot-wide walking trail which will accommodate equipment for inspecting the bridge in the future.

Imhoff presented several preliminary alternative designs. One, which calls for a “tight arch” near the center of the span appealed to members of the committee.

Calling the “tight arch” concept “interesting,” Zick said he hopes that can be done. “We want something classy” in the bridge design, he remarked.

Imhoff said his team will study a range of alternatives to build the most efficient, cost-effective bridge within the project budget.

One concept being studied would incorporate a “W” into the design to play off the “W” in Washington and Warren County, Imhoff said.

HDR has retained the firm Bridgescapes to assist in the design.

“This bridge will be a significant structure for the entire region,” Zick commented.

Suggested enhancements from local funds include form liners, decorative fencing and decorative lighting.

Wagner noted that the current lights on the bridge, which were purchased with an enhancement grant, could be reused “somewhere,” possibly mounted on posts on the new bridge.

She said the plan is to complete the engineering and design work and get the project “on the shelf” by the end of 2014 and have all work ready to go in case additional funding is found.

Old Bridge Parts

Karen Daniels with MoDOT said since the old bridge would be eligible to be on the National Register, the state is required to offer parts of the current bridge for possible reuse.

Some entities have used parts of historic old bridges to incorporate into a local park, she noted.

“We’ve not had a lot of succees getting anyone to take a large bridge, but we are required to advertise.

Downtown Washington Inc. is talking about ways to use parts of the bridge in the downtown area as a historic attraction, it was pointed out.

Trail Connection

Wagner also mentioned that discussions are continuing on several options to connect the bridge walkway to the Katy Trail at Dutzow, however at this point the proposal is “at a standstill.”

The enhancement committee currently plans to meet on the third Tuesday of each month at 8:30 a.m. following the Highway 47 Bridge Committee meetings.